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It is not often heard of but it seems that there are interesting news concerning it and the characteristics of the tarsier they interest more and more scientists and researchers. We understand what they are and why they could also arouse our interest.
Characteristics of the tarsier
Tarsiers are small animals that can at first sight also arouse sympathy. These Asian primates are about 10-15 centimeters long depending on age and sex, but they have one disproportionately long tail, more than the body, almost twice as much, since it measures from 20 to 25 centimeters. Another one wacky feature what makes this animal very similar to a being that comes out of a fantasy comic are the hands and fingers.
The first are simply very long but the fingers are really special, as well as long they also show up with swollen fingertips. The tarsi use them a lot for grooming: with the index and thumb they are the fingers with which they scratch and clean, equipped with very functional nails for all the necessary hygiene operations even if they also have the dental comb typical of strepsirrhines.
As the name suggests, and perhaps someone has already asked, these animals have a tarsal bone particularly long. You notice it looking at them even if you will first be struck by their gaze, with their eyes wide open even in the night since they are a typically nocturnal animal.
Tarsiers are arboreal animals with a diet that sees above all the presence of insects. They catch them at night, in the hours when they are awake and active. Depending on the geographical areas of residence, then, the diet can also be enriched with small vertebrates, snakes that they capture while walking around. There are certainly no problems if it becomes necessary to feed oneself plunder bird nests. Most of the specimens of which we know the presence today, are found in the Sunda Islands and in the Philippines. Among the species that have been distinguished, here are the main ones
- Tarsius dentatus Miller and Hollister or Diana's tarsier
- Tarsius fuscus Fischer or brown tarsier
- Tarsius lariang Merker and Groves or Lariang tarsier
- Tarsius pelengensis Peleng's Sody obtarsio
- Tarsius pumilus Miller and Hollister or pygmy tarsier
- Tarsius sangirensis Meyer or Sangihe tarsier
- Tarsius tarsier obtarsio ghost or elf maki
- Tarsius tumpara Shekelle or Siau Island tarsier or smiling tarsier
- Tarsius wallacei Merker or Wallace tarsier
- Tarsius bancanus or Malayan tarsier
- Tarsius syrichta or Philippine tarsier
If the body of the tarsier seems so strange to us, we must put ourselves in its shoes and above all in its environment. We will find that its eyes and its dimensions are just fine for the nightlife and arboreal that leads. Its fingers and its tarsus make it easy when it has to get food at night in the forests of Southeast Asia where it lives, among other things in a very small range.
Tarsiers can look like a cross between a rodent and a monkey and that's why they are called cousins. However, there are some arguments about them classification because they actually have a lot of lemurs too, but the official version that has come up is that all members of the genus Tarsius belong to the same evolutionary branch of humans and great apes.
All thanks to a recent genetic study. The DNA of the Philippine tarsier it was sequenced by a team of researchers led by Wesley Warren of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Saint Louis. The results published in Nature Communications put an end to the controversies that have long marked the talk about tarsi by observing the jaw and teeth, more similar to those of rodents, or the eyes and nose, more ape-like.
During the study, it was found that certain stretches of DNA said transposons show the proximity of the tarsi with humans and squirrel monkeys. They therefore have every right to be included in the group of aplorrini, together with our species and beyond. These living beings have also been taken into consideration in the study of the evolutionary changes that have led to humans.
The tarsier studies, now that they have been clearly classified, do not end. Indeed, they continue fruitfully because the genetic commonalities with the human being make them a useful genus for understanding the development of human diseases that affect the same genes
Tarsiers in danger
Leaving an anthropocentric perspective, we are pursuing others genome studies of the tarsi to better know their state of conservation. These primates in fact live in a very small range and with a highly precarious environmental balance, threatened by deforestation that would leave the tarsi without places to live and get food. Some species of this genus are already in danger of extinction today, but the more we know them the more it may be possible to save them. After all, they are our cousins and they are also quite characteristic.
Another animal in some ways similar to the tarsier you may be interested in is the sugar glider.