Tar­sier

Tar­siers have eyes big­ger than their brain

World of Animals - - Seeing In The Dark -

De­spite mea­sur­ing only 12 cen­time­tres

(4.7 inches) long, a tar­sier’s eyes are the same size as those of an orang­utan. This is an adap­ta­tion to a noc­tur­nal life­style of leap­ing from tree to tree in search of in­sect prey. The tar­sier’s long-range vi­sion helps it de­tect in­sects, small birds or even snakes through the dense Asian jun­gle. The rear of the eyes have pro­nounced in­den­ta­tions called foveae, in which rods and cones are packed very densely. This pit is a mech­a­nism for pro­duc­ing a sta­ble eye­line like a high-pow­ered tele­scope.

Tar­siers are thought to be fairly prim­i­tive pri­mates and may use sim­i­lar sur­vival tac­tics as some of the very first mam­mals that lived just af­ter the demise of the di­nosaurs. These an­i­mals came out at night to avoid preda­tors, and their sur­viv­ing de­scen­dants con­tinue to do the same. Tar­sier fos­sils from 50 mil­lion years ago have been dis­cov­ered to be al­most iden­ti­cal to their mod­ern-day coun­ter­parts.

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