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A team of anthropologists has discovered a group of primates not seen alive in 85 years. Hiding at a mountaintop in a cloud forest in Indonesia, the pygmy tarsiers (Tarsius pumilus), about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than 2 ounces (57 grams), have not been observed since they were last collected for a museum in 1921.

Decades went by without another sighting. Then, in 2000, two Indonesian scientists who were trapping rats on Mt. Rore Katimbo in Indonesia, reported they had accidentally trapped and killed a pygmy tarsier, leading to more searches in the area.

Unlike most other primates that sport fingernails, pygmy tarsiers have claws, which scientists say might be an adaptation to grasping onto moss-covered trees. Adapted for the night, their big eyes do not move, but they can turn their heads 180 degrees.

The tiny primates use their long legs to bound from treetop to treetop high up in the forest canopy. During the day, the nocturnal creatures tuck into hollowed-out trees. They also are much quieter than other tarsiers, such as the spectral tarsier that vocalizes for up to five minutes when returning from a night of foraging.


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