The Scary Aye-Aye: The Bringer of Bad Omens?

Photo credit: Animals Adda
Photo credit: Animals Adda

If you happen to trek the forests of Madagascar, you just might come face to face with a scary creature with rat-like teeth and a squirrel-like body: the aye-aye. However, because it is now classified as endangered, you just might never get a chance to see this primate in the wild by yourself.

The species has become endangered because the locals believe they are bringers of bad omen; thus, they are killed at sight.

Known as the world’s largest nocturnal primate, the aye-aye has similar features to a woodpecker wherein it uses is extra-long but thin middle finger to penetrate wood and extract various invertebrates living within.

Although English zoologist George Shaw tried to name the animal as the “long-fingered lemur” in 1800, the name just didn’t stick and “aye-aye” was still favored. The latter was the name used by the locals and was adapted by French naturalist Pierre Sonnerat when he described and illustrated this primate back in 1782.

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By Frank Vassen (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Frank Vassen (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It was Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire who named the animal after mentor French naturalist Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton, placing it under the genus Daubentonia. Thus, the aye-aye’s scientific name is Daubentonia madagascariensis.

A full-grown aye-aye has thick fur and could grow to as long as 3 feet long, with a tail that is also 3 feet long. Young ones are often silver in color.

Aside from having a weird middle finger and eyes too large compared to the proportion of its face, the aye-aye is also distinguishable from other species in that the females have two nipples located in the groin area. Now that’s absolutely odd!

Source: Wikipedia, Animals Adda

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