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Left photo by Photo by Sandilya Theuerkauf, Wynaad. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

The tarsiers are the members of the Tarsius genus of prosimian primates, monotypic in the Tarsiidae family and Tarsiiformes infraorder. Strange looking tiny night creatures... it is said that with it's huge eyes, long tail and hands and feet, the tarsier surely must have been what inspired Steven Spielberg when he created E.T. Close encounters with these strange beings are still a rare opportunity.

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Kind of alien like: Tarsiers have enormous eyes and long hands and feetfeet. Their feet have extremely elongated tarsus bones, which is how they got their name, and round heads. Their hairs are wavy and silky. They have a reduced muzzle, short neck and forelimbs and very long hind limbs. The tail is naked except for a few short hairs on the tip. The ears are thin, membranous, and nearly naked. The ears are always moving when tarsiers are awake.

The amazing turning head: A tarsier has the ability to rotate its head almost 360 degrees! This helps give them a wide field of vision.

Spiderman abilities: The long digits are tipped with rounded pads that allow gripping on almost any surface. A few toes have clawlike nails, the rest of the digits have flattened nails. Tarsiers mostly move with vertical clinging and leaping in the trees. They can do so with very little effort.

Like a frog: When they are not in the trees and on flat surfaces, they leap froglike, with their tail arched over their back. They are tremendous leapers, reaching lengths of 1200-1700 mm high and 600 mm high.

Jumping at insects: They are primarily insectivorous, and catch insects by jumping at them. They are also known to prey on birds and snakes.

Need to be free : When caged, some tarsiers have been known to injure and even kill themselves because of the stress

Night creatures: As could be guessed from the huge eyes, tarsiers are nocturnal. Their eyes are their most notable feature as they are very large - the diameter is around 16 mm.

Unchanged for centuries: They also have the longest continuous fossil record of any primate, and the fossil record suggests that their dental pattern and shape hasn't changed in 45 million years.

Gestation takes about six months, and tarsiers give birth to single offspring. They seem to form male female pairs, or sometimes a group with one male and two or three females. Pairs form a close and stable bond and stay together for more than a year. Young females will stay with the parents until they are adults; males leave as juveniles.

These small quick moving nocturnal creatures live in secondary growth forest, primary forest and other kinds of forest.Once found in Asia, Europe and North America, tarsiers are now only found on several Southeast Asian islands including the Philippines, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Sumatra. Habitat continually shrinks and most species of Tarsier are endangered, some critically.

  • Infraorder Tarsiiformes
    • Family Tarsiidae: tarsiers
      • Genus Tarsius
        • T. syrichta group
          • Philippine Tarsier, Tarsius syrichta
          • Western or Horsfield's Tarsier, Tarsius bancanus
        • T. tarsier group
          • Spectral Tarsier, Tarsius tarsier
          • Dian's Tarsier, Tarsius dentatus
          • Tarsius lariang
          • Peleng Tarsier, Tarsius pelengensis
          • Sangihe Tarsier, Tarsius sangirensis
          • Pygmy Tarsier, Tarsius pumilus

Lemur | Loris | Tarsier
Primates| Apes| Monkeys| Prosimians

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 Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Chordata

 Class: Mammalia

 Order: Primates

Suborder: Haplorrhini

Infraorder: Tarsiiformes

Genus:  Tarsius