Wild Fact #923 – This Animal is Bound to Turn Heads – Philippine Tarsier

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Photo by yeowatzup at http://www.flickr.com/photos/yeowatzup

Yesterday we talked about insects so let’s take a different route today and talk about an animal that eats insects.  The Philippine tarsier is often referred to as the smallest monkey in the world. Although, this primate is only 9-16 cm (3.5 – 6″) in length (excluding the tail) it doesn’t classify as the smallest monkey since it really isn’t a monkey.  The Philippine tarsier is a primate but it has a separate sub-order.  In fact they are more closely related to the lemur.  This doesn’t take anything away from the interesting characteristics that this little critter posess.

The Philippine tarsier is nocturnal animal that relies on its senses to capture their prey.  Obviously, you have noticed the large eyes of the tarsier which help capture as much light as possible while hunting at night.  The eyes of the tarsier do not rotate which means they have little to no peripheral vision.  Don’t worry, the Philippine tarsier has found a solution to this problem.  The tarsier is the only primate that can rotate their head 180 degrees.  Similar to that creepy girl in that horror movie, which I can’t remember the name to.  You know what! I am going to give 5 Wild Facts Bonus Points to the person that can tell me the movie I am thinking about!

The Philippine tarsier also has a few other adaptations to help them survive.  For example they have excellent hearing which assists them throughout the night.  As well, they have extraordinary legs which can be twice as long as their head and body combined.  This allows them to jump as much as 40 times their length. Like other primates their frist toe is completely opposable which assists them in gripping tree branches.  Finally, all the fingers and toes of the tarsier have flattened nails except for the second and third toes which are more claw-like.  These specialized claws assist with grooming.  We all know how much primates like to groom so this is actually an important feature.

Philippine Tarsier Fast Fact: The eye of the Philippine tarsier is actually larger than it’s brain and stomach.  I have heard of the expression my eyes are bigger than my stomach but never my eyes are bigger than my brain!

I hope you enjoyed today’s fact.  Check out the picture of the Philippine tarsier below.  Does the fact that they can turn their heads around like this creep anyone else out?

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