tarsier

/tahr"see euhr, -see ay'/, n.
a small, arboreal, nocturnal primate of the genus Tarsius, of Indonesia and the Philippines, having a long thin tail, very large immobile eyes, and prominent pads on the fingers and toes: all populations are dwindling.
[1765-75; < F, equiv. to tarse TARSUS + -ier -IER2]

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Any of three species (genus Tarsius, family Tarsiidae) of nocturnal prosimian primates found on several South Asian islands.

Tarsiers have large, goggling eyes and a round head that can be rotated 180°. The ears are large, membranous, and almost constantly in motion. Tarsiers are 4–6 in. (9–16 cm) long; the thin, tufted tail of about twice that length provides balance and support. The gray to dark brown fur is thick and silky. Tarsiers cling vertically to trees and leap from trunk to trunk. They have greatly elongated hind limbs and disklike adhesive pads on the digit tips. Tarsiers prey mainly on insects. The well-furred newborn is born with eyes open.

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 any of six or more species of small leaping primates (primate) found only on various islands of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. Tarsiers are intermediate in form between lemurs (lemur) and monkeys (monkey), measuring only about 9–16 cm (3.5–6 inches) long, excluding a tail of about twice that length. Tarsiers are lemurlike in being nocturnal and having a well-developed sense of smell. However, like monkeys, apes, and humans, the nose is dry and hair-covered, not moist and bald as is that of lemurs. The eyes and placenta are also simiiform in structure.

 The tarsier's small brain has an enormous visual cortex to process information from the large goggling eyes, the animal's most striking feature. The size of the eyes and visual cortex is probably made necessary by the absence of a reflective layer (tapetum) that the eyes of most other nocturnal mammals possess. The tarsier is also unusual in having especially long ankle bones (tarsals, hence the name tarsier), a short body, and a round head that can be rotated 180°. The face is short, with large, membranous ears that are almost constantly in motion. The fur is thick, silky, and coloured gray to dark brown. The tail is scaly on the underside like a rat's; in most species it has an edging or terminal brush of hair.

      Tarsiers are the only entirely carnivorous primates, preying on insects, lizards, and snakes. Clinging upright to trees, they press the tail against the trunk for support. Their grip is also aided by the tips of their digits, which are expanded into disklike adhesive pads. Tarsiers move through the forest by launching themselves from trunk to trunk propelled by their greatly elongated hind limbs.

      Adults live in monogamous pairs and keep in contact vocally during the night, defending territory against other pairs using extremely high-pitched calls. On the island of Celebes (Sulawesi) these calls are duets—different but complementary calls made by the male and female. Single young are born in a fairly well-developed state, furred and with eyes open, after a gestation of perhaps six months.

      Tarsiers live on the islands of the southern Philippines, Celebes (Sulawesi), Borneo, Bangka, Belitung, the Natuna Islands, and Sumatra. Species differ so much across this range that some authorities are inclined to classify them in different genera. In Indonesia and Malaysia the Western tarsier (Tarsius bancanus) has huge bulging eyes, making the head broader than it is long; it also has the longest feet, and its tail is tufted at the tip. It thrives in both old-growth and secondary forests but can also be found in low scrubby vegetation, even around villages. The South Sulawesi, or spectral, tarsier (T. tarsier, formerly called T. spectrum) is primitive, with smaller eyes, shorter feet, and a hairier tail. There are several species on Celebes (Sulawesi) and on its offshore islands, but most have not yet been described scientifically. The most distinctive is the high-mountain pygmy tarsier (T. pumilus). Until it was rediscovered in 2008, the last living pygmy tarsier specimen was seen in 1921. The Philippine tarsier (T. syrichta) has a totally bald tail, and the feet are also nearly hairless. Human settlement in its habitat threatens its continued existence.

      Family Tarsiidae is classified with monkeys, apes, and humans (infraorder Simiiformes) in the suborder Haplorrhini, but it constitutes a separate infraorder, Tarsiiformes.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • tarsier — [ tarsje ] n. m. • 1765; de tarse ♦ Zool. Petit mammifère prosimien, nocturne et arboricole, à la face aplatie. ● tarsier nom masculin (de tarse) Mammifère prosimien nocturne. (Les tarsiers sont de petits primates, arboricoles, à face aplatie,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Tarsier — Tar si*er, n. [Cf. F. tarsier.] See {Tarsius}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tarsier — TARSIÉR s. m. mamifer lemurian din Malaysia, nocturn, de mărimea unui şobolan, cu ochii foarte mari, care se hrăneşte cu şopârle şi insecte. (< fr. tarsier) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • tarsier — tàrsiēr m <G tarsiéra> DEFINICIJA zool. maleni polumajmun velikih očiju; živi u JI Aziji ETIMOLOGIJA fr. tarsier ≃ tarse: nožni splet …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Tarsier — (Tarser, Tarsius), Affe, so v.w. Fußthier …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • tarsier — [tär′sē ər] n. [Fr, so named by BUFFON Comte de < tarse, TARSUS, from the foot structure] any of a family (Tarsiidae) of small primates of the East Indies and the Philippines, with very large, gogglelike eyes, and a long, tufted tail: tarsiers …   English World dictionary

  • Tarsier — Taxobox name = Tarsiers image caption= Philippine Tarsier ( Tarsius syrichta ) regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Primates subordo = Haplorrhini infraordo = Tarsiiformes infraordo authority = Gregory, 1915 familia =… …   Wikipedia

  • Tarsier — Tarsius Tarsiidae …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Tarsier — Koboldmakis Sulawesi Koboldmaki (Tarsius tarsier) Systematik Überordnung: Euarchontoglires …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • tarsier — Tarsius Tar si*us, n. [NL. See {Tarsus}.] (Zo[ o]l.) A genus of nocturnal lemurine mammals having very large eyes and ears, a long tail, and very long proximal tarsal bones; called also {malmag}, {spectral lemur}, {podji}, and {tarsier}. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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