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The aye-aye, which is also known as a long finger lemur, gets a bad rap for its weird appearance. But a new study has found that the nocturnal animal has a function, which is a surprise to researchers, the first one, “pseudothumb” has ever been found in a primate.
Recently published research suggests that aye-ayes, originally from Madagascar, is a small structure that is composed of bone and cartilage. It is also the muscles surrounding it that makes it possible for motion in all three directions, much in the same way that a human thumb and moving around,” according to a statement accompanying the study.
“The aye-aye was the strangest hand of the one, first and foremost,” said the study’s lead author, Adam Hartstone-Rose, in a statement. “Their fingers have evolved to be very specialized – so specialized, it is, in fact, that they are not of much help when it comes to moving through the trees. If you have to get them to move, it kind of looks like an alien lemur walking on a spider.”
This is a digital representation of the pseudothumb. (Credit: Edwin Dickinson, and NC State University)
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Even though it might be a nub-like in appearance, it certainly serves a function, and Hartstone-Rose and added to it.
“The pseudothumb is more than just a little swelling,” Hartstone-Rose said. “It’s both the bone and cartilage of the extension and three different types of muscles that move. The pseudothumb you can weave in the air and has a force equal to nearly half of the aye-aye of body weight. Therefore, it would be very helpful, there for the taking.”
The rare black-aye-aye named Melisandre looks like a bat with pointy ears, a long, bony fingers, and eyes that glow in the dark. (Credit: SWNS)
Aye-ayes are the feathers on the fingers, and one of them has been exceptional, and Hartstone-Rose, are of the opinion it may be the cause of this evolutionary change.
“Other species such as the panda bear, and are built with the same extra digit to aid in gripping, as the standard of the bear paw, it is to be generalized to the skills required are up for grabs,” he added. ‘And a mole, and some of the extinct swimming reptile, have the additional numbers to extend the hand to make it more efficient to dig in or go for a swim. In this case, the aye-aye’s hand is dedicated to food, one extra mark for mobility is necessary.”
“A number of other primate species are reduced in numbers to aid in the movement,” Hartstone-Rose, and continued. “The aye-aye is the first, first and foremost, to call the numbers at hand, instead of calling them down. And the amazing thing is that it’s there all the time, and in the most bizarre of all primates, but no one has noticed it until now.”
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The study, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
In Madagascar, aye-ayes are considered to be a symbol of death, and some are even considered to be an omen of evil. The aye-aye was thought to be extinct, but was rediscovered in 1961, according to the World wildlife Fund.
Earlier this month, a baby aye-aye is known as Melisandre, was born at the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina. The gentle creature weighed in at only 81 grams at birth, and is one of only nine in the AFTERMATH, and 25 in the country as a whole.
In 2018, a baby aye-aye the name Tonks had been born at the Denver Zoo to the parents, Bellatrix, and Smeagol.
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