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.
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!