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Philippine Tarsier

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Philippine Tarsier
Conservation status: Data deficient
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Philippine_sarangani_tarsier.jpg
image:Philippine_sarangani_tarsier.jpg


Tarsier in Sarangani, Philippines
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Primates
Family:Tarsiidae
Genus:Tarsius
Species:T. syrichta
Binomial name
Tarsius syrichta
Linnaeus, 1758

Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) is a tarsier that was, for a very long time, believed to exist only in the provinces of Samar, Leyte, and Bohol, Philippines. Tribal people like the B'laans and T'bolis have been, for a long time, reporting sightings in the province of Sarangani. Tarsiers are also called mal in T'boli. Unfortunately these reports were merely discarded as a hoax until March 30 2002 when a pair of these tiny nocturnal mammals was captured in the mountainous areas of the municipalities of Maitum and Kiamba and was brought to the public, proving that these endangered species really exists in this coastal province.

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Sarangani Tarsier

Tarsiers are nocturnal creatures, being active and looking for food during the night, and preying mainly on insects. They are tiny animals, measuring about four to six inches in height. Their small size makes them difficult to discover. During the day, tarsiers sleep in dark hollows close to the ground. Their natural habitat is the tropical rainforest with dense vegetation and trees.

Tarsiers have round heads that can be rotated 180 degrees, with large membranous ears that appear to be almost constantly moving. They have uniquely large goggling eyes (disproportionate to their heads and body), listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest eyes on a mammal. They use their thin tail about twice their body length to balance themselves. They habitually cling vertically to trees and are capable of leaping from branch to branch. The thick and silky fur is colored gray to dark brown. Their hind limbs are elongated and have disklike pads on the fingertips that help them cling easily to trees.

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Angry Tarsier

Paradoxically, indigenous superstition coupled with relatively thick rainforest in this province have apparently preserved this endangered species. Indigenous tribes leave tarsiers in the wild because they fear that these animals could bring bad luck.

Local people sometimes pride themselves by calling the tarsier as the world's smallest monkey. However the tarsier is neither a monkey nor the smallest primate. It is a primate and is part of the group of mammals that includes monkeys, lemurs, gorillas and humans. Scientists say the tarsier falls somewhere between the lemurs and monkeys on the evolutionary scale.

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Tarsier with a baby

Tarsius syrichta is found in the rainforests of Sumatra, the East Indies, Sulawesi and the Philippines. The Philippine Tarsier is most commonly found on the islands of Bohol, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao.

The Philippine Tarsier is found in small trees in tropical rainforests and in areas that offer them protection like tall grasses, bushes and bamboo shoots. Their natural habitat is the jungle, leaping from tree to tree with relative ease.

Related articles

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Breastfeeding Tarsier
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