Why does Google think the slowest animal is the sloth?

Google writes:

Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

This is pretty hard, but Google has been at it a while. Let’s see how well Google is doing by asking it for some basic factual information, like the slowest animal.

Google says it’s the three-toed sloth:

Google search for slowest animal

To see just how wrong this is, take a look at this video of a sloth climbing a tree:

Can you imagine a 1 millimeter snail moving this quickly? A sponge? A coral? A tardigrade? A 100-micron long mite?

It takes almost no research at all to see that the sloth wouldn’t even be invited to the slowest animal Olympics, let alone win the gold medal.

Google has plenty of company though.

Siri guesses that it’s the two-toed sloth:

Siri search for slowest animal

Bing returns images of sloths, but text saying it’s the seahorse:

Bing search for slowest animal

Cortana returns text saying three-toed sloth while its first image is a Gila monster:

Cortana search for slowest animal

Although DuckDuckGo doesn’t elevate an editorial snippet, it returns 8 images of sloths and 1 image of a loris:

DuckDuckGo search for slowest animal

YouTube’s top hit for animals used to say seahorse, but today says the three-toed sloth:

YouTube search for slowest animal

WolframAlpha gets it the closest yet, returning the brown garden snail and explicitly states that it reinterpreted my query as the slowest land animal:

Wolfram Alpha search for slowest animal

Wikipedia returns an article with slowest animal by phylum and class, including coral with a speed of 0 m/s:

Wikipedia search for slowest animal

I find it quite interesting that of the 8 websites I asked, the only website that got the answer partially correct was the also the only website that’s a non-profit.

2020 update: Despite being higher quality than all results returned by search engines, the Wikipedia article was deleted for being too low quality. Alas.

Wikipedia deletion notice