The Ashes

Technology, Science and other news
August 27, 2009

Tarsier – The Speculate Mortal of Philippines

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Filed under : General

Philippine Tarsier

Philippine Tarsier

The tarsiers are also considered to be known as Tarsiers syrichta in the biological world. They are known for their existence as the earliest beings in the biome. You can only find them in Philippines. These cute and innocent creatures have broad wide eyes with a delightful snooty nose. This is probably the reason they are so much eye-catching. You can easily hold them in your hands as their size is quite small. If you ever happen to embark on the journey of Philippines, you will find these tiny little creations whizzing on the islands of Samar, Leyte and Bohol.

The Survival of The Weakest

The tarsiers are midget and they somehow resemble small monkeys. They feed on insects and bugs found in burnt wood or charcoal remains of the nature. The tarsier species are happened to be around 45 million years old. This fascinating fact came across worldwide when J. Petiver, a famous biologist mentioned it in his descriptions. Beside the popular assumptions made against tarsiers, they are not actually like the smallest monkeys. They might bear resemblance to primary species of monkeys as Lemurs and Bushbabies. Biologists taxonomically differentiate these species from apes although they have some of the attributes close to anthropoids. There are other various species of tarsiers such as Sumatra, Madagascar and Borneo. They are however, different from each other in size, shape and morphology.

Sleepy tarsier

Sleepy tarsier

Tarsier Skull

A small Tarsier skull.

The Philippine tarsier is a highly active species and is interesting with its peculiar features. Though its body is covered with grey fur, its long 232 mm tail is nearly bare. From head to tail, it measures 118-149 mm and weighs 113-142 grams. What is very striking about a Philippine tarsier is its bulging eyes that seem uniquely out of place against its small body size. The eye sockets surpass the size of the brain case and the stomach of the tarsier.

Big eyes and little body. an adult tarsier can curl up in the palm of your hand!

Big eyes

Tarsiers Sanctuary, Bohol

Tarsiers Sanctuary, Bohol

Its hands and legs have fingers similar to human limbs that they use to clutch their perch and balance their body with the tail. You can at once detect the elongated middle finger of a tarsier and its very long anklebones that work as a shock absorber. This helps the tarsier to carry out its frog like leap from branches to branches with ease. The head of a tarsier is quite similar to that of an owl because of its shape and the special joint amidst the sine and skull base for rotating its head in 180-degrees arc. Tarsiers have unusually sharp teeth to facilitate preying on insects during their nocturnal ventures.

Protect the Endangered Philippine Tarsier

Protect the Endangered Philippine Tarsier

Tarsiers prefer to live on trees holes and roots of bamboo plants although you may find exceptions to these. Since the greater part of the tarsier activities is confined to nights, you can scarcely see them during daytime. The males and females of this species are found to live in groups, with the females taking care of the younger tarsiers. They emit a range of vocal sounds at various circumstances like challenge, breeding period, group assemblies etc. The epigastric glands of the male tarsiers facilitate scent marking while you may find them making meaningful facial gestures as well.



Tarsiers achieve sexual maturity when they become two years of age. The female undergoes a recurrent period of heat that lasts around 23 days and emits a special sound to communicate about her fertility. The pregnancy period of an average female tarsier lasts up to six months while the average life span of a healthy tarsier can extend from 12-20 years. The birth and growth of baby tarsiers is an amazingly fast-paced process and they are weaned after 60 days and move by themselves within 19 days of their birth.

hey, it's Gizmo!

hey, it’s Gizmo!

This wonderful species of Philippine tarsier is now facing threats of extinction due to the diminishing of its natural forest habitat. Years of slash-and-burn agriculture and illegal felling of trees are largely to be blamed for the current plight of tarsiers. Added to that is of course the cruel practice of killing and selling stuffed tarsiers to tourists. Now it has been declared a protected species but if the Philippine government does not take adequate measures to increase their numbers, you may not see tarsier any more in near future.


Almost the world’s smallest primates or so the tourist guides tell you. And they’re not monkeys.

Baby Yoda sleeping

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