Friday, November 21, 2008

A Real Life Furby
I’m sure you’ve seen the movie Gremlins, and if you haven’t, I know you must be familiar with what Furby is. It has just been released that creatures called pygmy tarsiers were found on an Indonesian island. These little guys haven’t been seen alive by scientists since 1921, and were thought to have been extinct. The cool thing about the pygmies-they are primates!

Tarsian pygmies are nocturnal primates that are found on central Sulawesi and Indonesia, in an areas with lower vegetative species diversity like typical mountain settings (cold, foggy, misty). When mating, pygmies stay in bonded pairs for about 15 months, and they are faithful to their mate. Like other primates, the infants develop very quickly and can travel in groups after about 23 days and can capture prey at about the age of a whopping 42 days. The young females stay with their parents until adulthood, but the males leave while they are still juvenile. The pygmies grow up to about 4 inches (95 to 105 mm) long and about 2 ounces in weight, which huge eyes (about 16mm in diameter).

The scientists have let the pygmies go, but with radio collars so they can track them. When putting the collars on them, they were surprised to be bitten because the heads of the pygmies can turn 180 degrees! Hopefully we can learn more about the pygmies, and who knows, maybe someday we will have little pygmy pets!

The article can be found here.

-Alyson Paige (10)


At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article...but those things look too scary for me to want it for a pet. What originally made them go extinct in the first place? Where were they found before they were thought to be extinct?
-Sasha Rogers

At 3:40 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Really interesting article. I wonder what scientists came up with to reason for their previously thought "extinction". Is it possible for a species to go extinct temporarily? Are these pygmies exactly the same as the pygmies scientists of 1921 have seen?

-Helen Thi

At 6:07 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Where do the juvenile males go to if they're leaving? do they go to find mates and set up territorys? are they mating with the juvenile females that are still at home? Or do they mate with adult females that have already left home.

I think its really cool that they could turn their heads 180 degrees, could the extinct group do this as well, i would think not since you said the scientists were surprised. Do you think they may be different enough to be a completely different species? Or is it possible that they were extinct and they come back into existance? Or maybe they never were really extinct but just at drastically low populations, if this is the case I wonder what factors may have contributed to their population being able to grow enough to be spotted.


Jennifer Smith

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Cecelia said...

How long do they usually live? I'm curious because you mention a few milestones that they reach at certain ages. They stay as couples for 15 months, but is that a long time in relation to their lifespans?

-Cecelia Hunt

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Allison Cornell said...

Scary! It does kind of look like the Furbys! You mention that the males stay with their partners for 15 months. Is that significant of a particular time frame, such as mating through adulthood of their daughters, etc.? How many did the scientists find and put tracking devices on?

Allison Cornell (10)

At 9:43 AM, Blogger PWH said...

Are these pygmy tarsiers the same ones that they thought were extinct or are they another species? I would be interested to know more about them in general because I had never heard of them. You said that they develop quickly and can capture prey at 42 days. What do they eat? Also, who are there predators? Why were they thought to have been extinct in the first place?

-Tara Quist

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow it's interesting to see that it took a little more than 80 years to find that these species isn't extinct. Since the males leave when they are juveniles, do they go find mates and leave with other males juveniles?

- David Huynh

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is so interesting. I think they are oddly cute. What are their main predators? Why were they thought to be extinct?

Mia DiFabbio

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is really interesting, how much is known about these creatures? And maybe what were the scientists looking for when they found the pygmies because they clearly didn't expect to find them.

-Amanda Joyce-

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting article. I didn't even know they existed! How did they go to extinction? And how do they turn their heads 180 degrees? They are probably the only primates that are able to do this.

Hanbing Guo

At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think species that are thought to go extince and then "rediscovered" a few years later are really interesting. A few others come to mind, such as the coelacanth (not sure about the spelling) and the okapi. I believe there's a species of woodpecker down south whose "extinct" status has also recently come into question, and there are people in Australia who swear that tasmanian tigers are still around. Even though the mountain lion is officially extinct in this area, I know people who are positive that they have seen one/tracks of one. I think it's interesting how animals, sometimes large ones, can evade capture or observation for so long. Kind of shows us humans that we're not always as smart or observent as we think they are.
-Corinne Delisle

At 7:22 PM, Blogger PWH said...

AWWWWW, they are so cute. I would love to have one as a pet! It is amazing how little they are yet so independent at a young age. Being able to capture prey at only 42 days old is amazing, wow. I will definitely be looking out for more information on these cute little primates. What kind of habitat to they live in and what do they eat?

Chantal Gomes

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These primates were never extinct, only thought to be because noone had seen one in almost 90 years. They are nocturnal insectivores that have claws instead of finger nails.

The Gremlin movies were awesome childhood flix. Stephen Spielburg actually directed the original 1984 release.

Jordan Grinstein (10)

At 8:06 PM, Blogger PWH said...

If they were believed to be extinct, then they are probably endangered now. What is the animal's conservation status? How many do they think are in the wild?

Jimmy Sullivan

At 8:32 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Where were they found back at the beginning of the 20th century? Are they related? Very interesting fact that their heads can turn 180 degrees , what so they use that for?

-Benjamin Spozio

At 8:48 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Oh... Pygmies are so cute. I really hope someday I can have one of them for my pet. That will be awesome. It is very interesting article and the picture is so nice too. By the way, how long can they live?

So Jin Lee

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww, they are so ugly they're cute! I wonder why the males leave the pack early but the females stay until they grow up. This reminds me of what we learned in class about how in some species, males go off on their own to reduce incestual breeding which can hurt their genes. It's surprising that they hadn't been seen since 1921, thats a long time. Are they critically endangered?

-Julie Riley

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What causes the monogamy. It seems strange that there would be an evolutionary advantage to monogamy and it seems strange that they are monogamous for a short period rather than permanently. Is it for such a short time because they have a short lifespan?

-Alex Jackson

At 11:32 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Interesting article,
I have one question; are there any species that have been found to be closely related to this species in the islands surrounding Indonesia?

Ahmed Sandakli

At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww. That is so cute, that they are faithful mates. And when you said that the young female stay with the parents until adulthood. 1) Does that mean that with both male and female parents take care of the offspring? And 2) does that mean that the female become an adult within the 15 months that the pygmies are together? It’s a really nice article thank you.

Tenzing Y. Dundutsang

At 11:32 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Do they have any idea how many of these pygmies there actually are?

Charles Scondras

At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really cool! They look really scary though! I dont know if i'd want one as a pet... But what is really interesting to me is the fact that females stay with the parents longer than the males. It reminds me of the may us humans tend to be more protective of girls then guys... What do you think caused them to evolve this trait? Maybe females that spent more time with parents were more successful at surviving and reproducing than if they spent less time with them?

Brena Sena

At 12:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this the first research about pygmies presented since 1921? I'm curious to see what family of primates they are closely related to, especially if their heads can turn a full 180 degrees. It must have come as quite a shock when they were first discovered, I can't imagine what it would be like to find a creature you thought was extinct.

-Stephen Lee

At 1:03 AM, Blogger PWH said...

Extremely intriguing article. I never new that primate such as the Tarsian Pygmy. You did mention though about the Pygmies traveling in groups and capturing prey. Do you know of the types of organisms that the Pygmies, being the little size they are, prey on?

-Kiel Boutelle

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My boyfriend mentioned something to me about this and I completely blew him off as trying to sound like he knew something. How big do they estimate the population of these little things to be? It's crazy that they can turn their heads 180 degrees! Is there an adaptation in their anatomy that allows them to do this?

Amy Kawazoe

At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a reason why they have not been seen since 1921? That is an awful huge difference between then and now, and the thought that they had been among extinct species. Do scientists now know how many of them exist? Are they endangered?

Michele Copeland

At 8:13 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I always thought that pygmies were fictional. Thats pretty cool that such a small primate exist on the earth. I am surprised that we are still finding species of animals that are this large. I know that many species of animals exist that we dont know about but I didnt think that they were this physically large. I only have one question about this article and it is that I thought Primates young typically took a relativley long ttime to develop?

Patrick Salome

At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow that is a creepy picture. but a very interesting article. seems like they need to do more research.

-Matthew Sousa

At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UPDATE: Answers to questions from the posters. Thank you all for posting! Your comments are great.

To clarify the extinction questions- the pygmies did not really go into extinction. They hadn't been seen since 1921, although presently, they are listed as critically endangered. They had always been in the area around Indonesia, and live/lived in mountains where it was cool. The pygmies are insectivorous making them the only primates that are only carnivorous. The size of the pygmies are small (95 to 105mm with tails about 135 to 275 mm). The pygmies have claws instead of nails as well. The pygmies are also known to not use scent to mark territory (as other tarsiers do). There will be more information coming I am sure because the radio collars will help us track them in the wild. This will also hopefully lead us to more pygmies, so we can learn more about their behaviors. Keep on the lookout for more information about these little guys in the near future!

Alyson Paige

At 2:29 PM, Blogger PWH said...

is there any information about their social heirarchy as of yet or is this the first study being conducted on them?

-Joe Alonzo

At 2:29 PM, Blogger PWH said...

is there any information about their social heirarchy as of yet or is this the first study being conducted on them?

-Joe Alonzo


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