Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)

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Philippines tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)

Face close-up photo of a Philippines tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) on the branch of a tree – wallpaper

The photo shows a Philippine Tarsier belonging to the species Tarsius syrichta. Tarsiers are a group of primates (the mammalian order to which humans, apes, monkeys, etc. belong to) of the genus Tarsius (family: Tarsiidae).

Although they once inhabited over most of the continents and islands, now all the living species of this genus are found only in Southeast Asian islands such as the Philippines, Sulawesi, Borneo and Sumatra.

They are mostly listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ or as ‘Most Endangered’ primates by the IUCN and most governments of the countries where these animals still live. Because of their feeding habits and other evolutionary reasons, they are rather difficult to breed in captivity, although some success has been reported from a sanctuary in the island of Bohol in the Philippines.

Although, Tarsiers seem to be one of the first groups of primates to have developed from lower forms of life, the fossils recovered from various parts of the world show that they have not undergone any noticeable evolutionary changes in the past 45 million years.

Tarsiers are very small tree-climbing, nocturnal animals and they are the only living entirely carnivorous primates. They are primarily insectivorous feeding on most insects, and also prey on bats, birds, lizards, snakes and other small animals.

Tarsiers have huge eyes, with each eyeball measuring about 16 mm in diameter. While their body lengths range from 10 to 15 cm, their long hind limbs (legs) measure twice their body length. They have very long fingers and most of the fingers have nails excepting the second and third fingers of the hind limb which have claws. Their bodies are covered with soft velvety fur that is brownish, ochre or beige in color. They rather present a picture of incomplete evolution, or an ongoing evolutionary process that was halted midway.

Tarsiers have an enormous upper hearing range, and can hear sound waves of frequencies as high as 91 kHz, while humans can hear only up to 20 kHz. They can also create vocalizations with frequencies up to 70 kHz.

The gestation period for these primates is about six months, usually giving birth to a single baby. The young ones start climbing trees one or two days after birth, and they become sexually matured in two years.

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