Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Real Life Gremlin’s Found: Pygmy Tarsiers

Pygmy tarsiers rank among the rarest of the many tarsier species in Asia and the Pacific — and in fact some primatologists had written them off as extinct. The 2-ounce (57-gram) carnivorous primate had not been seen alive since the 1920s.

They have the distinctive, big-eyed look often associated with Furbys, gremlin-like talking toys that were popular in the late 1990s. Compared with the robotic Furbys, however, the real animals’ dimensions are seriously downsized: They typically measure less than 4 inches (105 mm) from head to tail, with most of that length being tail. They weigh less than 2 ounces. And unlike Furbys, they hardly ever vocalize.

Texas A&M anthropologist Sharon Gursky-Doyen, leader of the expedition, said the tarsiers were found on mountainsides above 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) in elevation, amid damp, dangerous terrain. “I actually broke my fibula walking around there,” she told msnbc.com.

Pygmy tarsiers rank among the rarest of the many tarsier species in Asia and the Pacific — and in fact some primatologists had written them off as extinct.

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