Friday, October 31, 2014

The creepiest primate

The aye aye
Happy Halloween! Primates usually don't come to mind when you think of scary animals, do they? But there's one in particular I think you may find a little creepy. It's the aye aye, an endangered lemur found on the island of Madagascar.

Aye ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis) are a bit...different. They're the woodpeckers of Madagascar in a way. These primates have an extended third finger which they use to tap and find larvae from wood. Those large ears help them hear grub inside the wood. Once the aye aye finds something inside the wood, it uses it teeth, specifically its incisors (tooth at the front of the jaw designed for cutting: humans have four) to tear open the wood and get to the food! It may also use its third finger or digit to extract the food.

Note the long middle finger that helps the aye aye find food
Aye ayes are nocturnal and solitary. Like many primates, their numbers are declining due to habitat loss and hunting. Some Malagasy believe aye ayes are omens of bad luck/evil, so they may be killed for this reason. They may also be killed because they can destroy crops, and are thus seen as pests.

Here's a great video from National Geographic where you can watch this fascinating, creepy-looking primate in action: World's Weirdest-The Demon Primate. Enjoy!

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