Extinct Pygmy tarsier rediscovered in Indonesia

Extinct Pygmy tarsier rediscovered in Indonesia


A team led by a Texas A&M University anthropologist has discovered a group of primates not seen alive in 85Pygme-tarsier years. The pygmy tarsiers, furry gremlin like creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than 2 ounces, have not been observed since they were collected for a museum in 1921. Several scientists believed they were extinct until two Indonesian scientists trapping rats in the highlands of Sulawesi accidentally trapped and killed a pygmy tarsier in 2000.

Unique feature
Sharon Gursky-Doyen and Nanda Grow trapped three of the nocturnal creatures in Indonesia in August 2008. The pygmy tarsiers possess fingers with claws instead of nails, which Gursky-Doyen says is a distinguishing feature of this species, and distinguish them from nearly all other primates which have nails and not claws. The claws may be an adaptation to their mossy environment, she believes.

Pygmy tarsier claws. The only primates not to have fingernails. Photo credit Texas A&M University.

Radio tracking
Over a two-month period, two males and one female were trapped on Mt. Rore Katimbo in Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The scientists used approximately 276 mist nets to capture the tarsiers, and then attached radio collars to their necks so they could track their movements.

The moist mountainous terrain at heights of 7,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level proved tricky to navigate, and the nocturnal nature of the animals added another element of danger.

“There are still primates waiting to be discovered in Indonesia. Not all have been seen, heard and described.” Said

Gursky-Doyen’s research was funded by National Geographic Society, Conservation International Primate Action Fund, Primate Conservation Incorporated and Texas A&M University.

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