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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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
- Primate Info Net - Primate Factsheets & More: Tarsius sp.
- Video of a Tarsier
- A Synopsis of the Mammalian Fauna of the Philippine Islands
- Tarsier behaviour: index to species
- Descriptive Article of the Philippine Tarsier