Paris, William L.
Jungers, Laurie R. Godfrey, Elwyn L. Simons, and Prithijit S. Chatrath Phalangeal curvature and positional behavior in extinct sloth lemurs Primates, Palaeopropithecidae.
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USA, Vol. Phylogenetic and functional affinities of Babakotia primates , a fossil lemur from northern Madagascar. Martin, Robert D. Origins, Diversity and Relationships of Lemurs. Rafferty K. Molar microwear of subfossil lemurs: improving the resolution of dietary inferences. Journal of Human Evolution November , vol. Dental microstructure and life history in subfossil Malagasy lemurs. Simons, E. Lemurs: old and new. The extinct sloth lemurs of Madagascar.
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Godfrey, E. Simons, P. Chatrath and B. Paris, William L.
Jungers, Laurie R. Godfrey, Elwyn L. Simons, and Prithijit S. Chatrath Phalangeal curvature and positional behavior in extinct sloth lemurs Primates, Palaeopropithecidae. USA, Vol. Phylogenetic and functional affinities of Babakotia primates , a fossil lemur from northern Madagascar.
Martin, Robert D. Origins, Diversity and Relationships of Lemurs. Rafferty K.
Molar microwear of subfossil lemurs: improving the resolution of dietary inferences. Hartstone-Rose has dissected hundreds of primates, often focusing on forearm anatomy where most of the muscles that control the fingers reside. He studies how primate muscles have adapted for different types of behaviors. Dissection revealed that aye-ayes have an extra thumb, which researchers call a pseudo-thumb. The small structure made of bone and cartilage can move in three different directions, similar to the way human thumbs move.
Katharine Thompson , a PhD candidate in anthropology at Stonybrook University who studies lemurs, says that the animals are very difficult to observe in the wild because of their cryptic nature. Hartstone-Rose says pseudo-thumbs are known from a few different animals. All bears used to have these digits, but most living species have lost them as they plodded around on the ground.
The giant panda is the only bear that still has a pseudo-thumb, used for gripping the bamboo they feed on.
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Some rodents also developed pseudo-thumbs for similar reasons, to grasp twigs and grass. A few species of extinct aquatic reptiles also had pseudo-thumbs to allow them to widen their flippers and improve their swimming efficiency. Some moles also have a pseudo-thumb to allow them to dig better. But aye-ayes developed this digit for completely different reasons. Hartstone-Rose says that it likely came about because their fingers and actual thumb are so specialized for finding food.
Aye-ayes have very peculiar foraging and feeding habits.
Ancient DNA in subfossil lemurs: methodological challenges and their solutions | [email protected]
They tap rotting wood with their fingers and use their massive ears to find hollow spots, indicating the tunnels made by wood-boring bugs. Once they find an intersection of these tunnels, they gnaw into the wood using large incisors. At this point, they use their long, slender middle finger with a large claw.
But all this feeding specialization means the arboreal aye-ayes would have trouble grasping with their four fingers and regular thumb, which is also long and spindly. Stevens, who has studied fossil lemurs from mainland Africa, says that aye-ayes and some of their extinct relatives are so unique that they might have colonized Madagascar independently from other lemurs. Aye-ayes are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, mostly due to deforestation and habitat loss, though its creepy looks also make it the target of killings in some parts of Madagascar.
Some local beliefs consider the creature taboo, Hartstone-Rose says. Continue or Give a Gift.