photo via Texas A&M;
In our own species, trends from the 1980's have come back into fashion recently—witness the reemergence of leg warmers—and now the animal kingdom is getting in on the '80's thing too, as Pygmy Tarsiers, animals closely resembling creatures from the 1984 movie Gremlins, and thought to be extinct, have been found in the mountaintop forests of Indonesia. The carnivorous primate had not been witnessed alive since 1921, but three live specimens were found and tagged this summer. (In 2000, Indonesian scientists accidentally trapped and killed a pygmy tarsier mistaking it for a rat).
An expedition, funded in part by the National Geographic Society's Conservation Trust, came upon the pygmy tarsiers on a misty mountaintop at an elevation of ~6,900 feet on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Sharon Gursky-Doyen, a researcher at Texas A&M; University was one of the members of the expedition.
In keeping with their pygmy name, the pygmy tarsiers are very small, weighing only a wee 2 ounces. Tarsiers are primates, most closely related to lemurs, and are unusual because of their sharp claws. Like their fictional doppelganger the Gremlins, pygmy tarsiers are nocturnal. Using their claws, the tarsiers leap throughout the night from tree to tree.
Logging in Indonesian forests during the 1970's destroyed the pygmy tarsier's habitat. As the tree canopy was thinned by deforestation, the nocturnal primate became more exposed to predators. Researchers hope that with the rediscovery of pygmy tarsiers, the Indonesian government will work harder to protect both this vulnerable, tiny animal and its beautiful habitat.
Thanks to tipsters Tasha McCauley and Joann Hulkower
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