Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long-lost 'Furby-like' Primate Discovered In Indonesia

Date:
November 19, 2008
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Anthropologists have discovered a group of primates not seen alive in 85 years. The pygmy tarsiers, furry Furby-like, or gremlin-looking, creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than two ounces, have not been observed since they were last collected for a museum in 1921.

A pygmy tarsier, furry Furby/gremlin-looking creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than 2 ounces, being held in one hand.
Credit: Image courtesy of Texas A&M University

A team led by a Texas A&M University anthropologist has discovered a group of primates not seen alive in 85 years. The pygmy tarsiers, furry Furby-like, or gremlin-looking, creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than two ounces, have not been observed since they were last collected for a museum in 1921.

Related Articles


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.

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

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 creatures, 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 above sea level proved tricky to navigate, and the nocturnal nature of the animals added another element of danger.

“It was always foggy and wet, so you had to be careful not to get hypothermia,” Gursky-Doyen says. “And the moss was so slippery, we were always struggling to stay upright.”

Gursky-Doyen, a physical anthropologist, specializes in the behavioral ecology and conservation of the non-human primates. In addition to research on the spectral tarsier, Gursky-Doyen’s earlier research focuses on the unusual infant caretaking behaviors exhibited by this primate, as well as the relationship between behavior and lunar cycles. Her most recent research project involves the relationship between group living and ecological pressures such as predation and the temporal distribution of resources.

Gursky-Doyen, who began work on her dissertation in 1993 in the central part of Indonesia , says she is eager to return to gain more first-hand knowledge about the creatures and work toward their preservation. She would like her graduate student, Nanda Grow, whom she calls “a mountain goat, because she was a stronger walker than the other field assistants,” to return to the site to complete here dissertation research.

Gursky-Doyen and Grow are drafting a paper that represents the first behavioral and ecological data on this living population of pygmy tarsiers.

Whatever else happens, Gursky-Doyen says she hopes the tarsiers won’t slip back into oblivion. Hopefully, she says, now that the Indonesian government knows where this species resides, it will protect them from the encroaching development that is occurring in the range of this species within Lore Lindu National Park.

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

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

Editor's note: Furbys were electronic toy robots popular in the late 1990s that had large eyes and ears. They spoke their own language but could be programmed to speak some English words.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Long-lost 'Furby-like' Primate Discovered In Indonesia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081118121946.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2008, November 19). Long-lost 'Furby-like' Primate Discovered In Indonesia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081118121946.htm
Texas A&M University. "Long-lost 'Furby-like' Primate Discovered In Indonesia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081118121946.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins