February 13, 2012
The tarsiers communication is "comparable to the highly specialized vocalizations of bats and dolphins, which are used primarily for echolocation," says lead author Nathaniel Dominy with Dartmouth in a press release. He calls the Philippine tarsier's sounds "extreme," and listening to a sample slowed down eight times so we can hear it, one comprehends the adjective.
Philippine tarsier. Photo courtesy of: Nathaniel Dominy.
For a small primate like the tarsier, which is considered a "living fossil" since it is practically unchanged evolutionarily for 45 million years, ultrasonic communication is likely an important tool for avoiding predators. The tarsier is free to communicate without allowing predators to eavesdrop. The ability to hear such levels may also help the tarsiers find insect-prey. In addition,the paper notes the sounds could also be used for alarm calls, rivalry, and social interactions.
"Our findings not only verify that tarsiers are sensitive to the ultrasound, but also that [the Philippine tarsier] can send and receive vocal signals in the pure ultrasound," Dominy says.
This doesn't mean all other tarsier species communicate via ultrasonic sounds. Other tarsier's calls are audible to humans, although Horsfield's tarsier (Tarsius bancanus), found on Borneo and Sumatra, may be similar to the Philippine tarsier in that it seems to call, but no sounds are heard.
Sporting massive eyes, tarsiers are nocturnal and feed on a variety of insects, as well as snakes, birds, and bats.
Feared extinct, obscure monkey rediscovered in Borneo
(01/20/2012) A significant population of the rarely seen, little-known Miller's grizzled langurs (Presbytis hosei canicrus) has been discovered in Indonesian Borneo according to a new paper published in the American Journal of Primatology. Feared extinct by some and dubbed one of the world's 25 most threatened primates in 2005 by Conservation International (CI), the langur surprised researchers by showing up on camera trap in a region of Borneo it was never supposed to be. The discovery provides new hope for the elusive monkey and expands its known range, but conservationists warn the species is not out of the woods yet.
Camera traps snap first ever photo of Myanmar snub-nosed monkey
(01/10/2012) In 2010 researchers described a new species of primate that reportedly sneezes when it rains. Unfortunately, the new species was only known from a carcass killed by a local hunter. Now, however, remote camera traps have taken the first ever photo of the elusive, and likely very rare, Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri), known to locals as mey nwoah, or 'monkey with an upturned face'. Locals say the monkeys are easy to locate when it rains, because the rain catches on their upturned noses causing them to sneeze.
Photo: Tiny lemur discovered in Madagascar forest
(01/08/2012) A new species of mouse lemur has been discovered in eastern Madagascar, report researchers from Germany. The species is described in a recent issue of the journal Primates.