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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini
Infraorder: Tarsiiformes
Gregory, 1915
Family: Tarsiidae
Gray, 1825
Genus: Tarsius

The tarsiers are prosimian (non-monkey) primates. They are active during the night, and have big eyes. They got their name from the long bones in their feet. They are now placed in the suborder Haplorrhini, together with the simians (monkeys).

Although they were once widespread, tarsiers are now found only on islands in South-East Asia.

Body shape

Tarsiers have huge eyes and long feet. They are nocturnal, and are the only wholly carnivorous primates. They mainly eat insects, and catch them by jumping at them. They are also known to eat birds and snakes. Pregnancy takes about six months.[source?] Tarsiers give birth to single offspring.

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.

They also have the longest continuous fossil record of any primate. The fossil record suggests that their dental pattern and shape has not changed in 45 million years.

Unlike many nocturnal animals, tarsiers lack a light-reflecting area (tapetum lucidum) of the eye. They also have a fovea, atypical for nocturnal animals.

The tarsier is also known to be the inspiration for the famous movie character Yoda of Star Wars due to its small size but excellent hunting skills. Tarsiers can catch prey like birds even if they are in motion as the tarsiers jump from tree to tree to catch their prey.

Conservation status

One tarsier species, Dian's Tarsier (Tarsius dentatus), is listed by on the IUCN Red List as being "lower risk - conservation dependent". Two other species/sub-species, Horsfield's Tarsier, are listed as "lower risk - least concern". The Spectral Tarsier (Tarsius spectrum) is categorized as "lower risk, not threatened." All other tarsier species are listed as "data deficient".


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