Tarsier – The Real Gremlin
When I first saw a Tarsier, I thought it looked like a surprised gremlin if I’m nice (Or a Gremlin that got its nuts trapped in a vice, if I’m not).
The surprised expression comes from the evolution of its eyes. It is, in fact nocturnal, (though the picture seems to suggest otherwise), but unlike most nocturnal animals, it doesn’t have a Tapetum lucidum, you know, the thing that causes the “cats-eye” effect in the dark. It also DOES have a fovea which is not typical for nocturnal eyes. So it probably started as a diurnal animal, not nocturnal. And back then, big eyes were SOOOO IN! So it went down the evolutionary road of big eyes, as opposed to the eye themselves growing night-vision. Big eyes capture more light.
(More info, videos and pictures after the break…)
But, big eyes and small head causes a problem. Its eyes are AS big as its brain. You may think that about some humans, but it is rarely the case not the case. So while their eyes got bigger, they lost the ability to move them, so they have something in common with owls, the eyes don’t move, but the neck can turn through 180˚.
Ok, but where does the name come from?! Well, they have very long hind legs. While their bodies are usually 10-15cm, their hind limbs (including feet) are about twice that! In fact, it is from the extremely elongated tarsus bones in their feet that they get their name. They use these long legs to leap from trees to catch the insects that they mainly feed on.
Lastly, look at the fingers! They sure are long; the third finger is about the same length as its forearm. You know what they say about big hands, right? Good for climbing trees and catching insects.
And that’s probably all you really need to know. I could have boiled down this article to “the Tarsier; Cute but kinda ugly.” So I’m back on the weird creature trail, hoping to bring you news from the front line as and when.