name = Tarsiers

image_caption= Philippine Tarsier ("Tarsius syrichta")
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Primates
subordo = Haplorrhini
infraordo = Tarsiiformes
infraordo_authority = Gregory, 1915
familia = Tarsiidae
familia_authority = Gray, 1825
genus = "Tarsius"
genus_authority = Storr, 1780
type_species = "Lemur tarsier"
type_species_authority = Erxleben, 1777
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision = "Tarsius syrichta" "Tarsius bancanus" "Tarsius tarsier" "Tarsius dentatus" "Tarsius lariang" "Tarsius pelengensis" "Tarsius sangirensis" "Tarsius pumilus"

Tarsiers are prosimian primates of the genus "Tarsius", a monotypic genus in the family Tarsiidae, which is itself the lone extant family within the infraorder Tarsiiformes. Although the group was once more widespread, all the species living today are found in the islands of Southeast Asia.


Tarsiers are small animals with enormous eyes and very long hind limbs. Their feet have extremely elongated tarsus bones, from which the animals get their name. The head and body range from 10 to 15 cm in length, but the hind limbs are about twice this long (including the feet), and they also have a slender tail from 20 to 25 cm long. Their fingers are also elongated, with the third finger being about the same length as the upper arm. Most of the digits have nails, but the second and third toes of the hind feet bear claws instead, which are used for grooming. Tarsiers have very soft, velvety fur, which is generally buff, beige, or ochre in color.cite book |editor=Macdonald, D.|author= Niemitz, Carsten|year=1984 |title= The Encyclopedia of Mammals|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 338-339|isbn= 0-87196-871-1]

Unlike other prosimians, tarsiers have no toothcomb, and their dental formula is also unique:dentition2||


All tarsier species are nocturnal in their habits, but like many nocturnal organisms some individuals may show more or less activity during the daytime. Unlike many nocturnal animals, however, tarsiers lack a light-reflecting area (tapetum lucidum) of the eye. They also have a fovea, atypical for nocturnal animals.

The Tarsier brain is different from other primates in terms of the arrangement of the connections between the two eyes and the lateral geniculate nucleus, which is the main region of the thalamus that receives visual information. The sequence of cellular layers receiving information from the ipsilateral (same side of the head) and contralateral (opposite side of the head) eyes in the lateral geniculate nucleus distinguishes tarsiers from lemurs, lorises, and monkeys, which are all similar in this respect [Rosa MG, Pettigrew JD, Cooper HM (1996) Unusual pattern of retinogeniculate projections in the controversial primate Tarsius. Brain Behav Evol 48(3):121-129.] . Some neuroscientists suggested that "this apparent difference distinguishes tarsiers from all other primates, reinforcing the view that they arose in an early, independent line of primate evolution" [Collins CE, Hendrickson A, Kaas JH (2005) Overview of the visual system of Tarsius. Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol 287(1):1013-1025.] .


They are primarily insectivorous, and catch insects by jumping at them. They are also known to prey on small vertebrates, such as birds, snakes, lizards, and bats. As they jump from tree to tree, tarsiers can catch even birds in motion.Fact|date=February 2007

Gestation takes about six months, and tarsiers give birth to single offspring. Young tarsiers are born furred, and with open eyes, and are able to climb within a day of birth. They reach sexual maturity after one year. Adults live in pairs, with a home range of around one hectare.


The phylogenetic position of extant tarsiers within the order Primates has been debated for much of the past century, and tarsiers have alternately been classified with strepsirrhine primates in the suborder Prosimii, or as the sister group to the simians (=Anthropoidea) in the infraorder Haplorrhini. Analysis of SINE insertions, a type of macromutation to the DNA, is argued to offer very persuasive evidence for the monophyly of Haplorrhini, where other lines of evidence, such as DNA sequence data, had remained ambiguous. Thus, some systematists argue that the debate is conclusively settled in favor of a monophyletic Haplorrhini.

At a lower level, it has been indicated that the tarsiers, currently all placed in the genus "Tarsius", actually should be placed in two (a Sulawesi and a Philippine-Western group) or three separate genera (a Sulawesi, Philippine and Western group).Brandon-Jones, D., Eudey, A. A., Geissmann, T., Groves, C. P., Melnick, D. J., Morales, J. C., Shekelle, M. and Stewart, C.-B. 2004. "Asian primate classification." International Journal of Primatology 25(1): 97-164.] Species level taxonomy is complex, with morphology often being of limited use compared to vocalizations. Several "vocal morphs" may represent undescribed taxa (such as North Sulawesi "T. tarsier", and a tarsier from the Togian Islands), as may also be the case for a number of poorly known isolated populations (such as the Basilan, Leyte and Dinagat populations of the "T. syrichta" group, and tarsiers on Siau Island that tentatively have been assigned to "T. sangirensis"). Further confusion exists over the validity of certain names. Among others, the widely used "T. dianae" has been shown to be a junior synonym of "T. dentatus", and comparably "T. spectrum" is now considered a junior synonym of "T. tarsier". On the contrary "T. tarsier" has been considered a junior synonym of "T. syrichta", but features of the holotype indicate this is incorrect.

* Infraorder TarsiiformesMSW3 Groves|pages=127-128]
** Family Tarsiidae: tarsiers
*** Genus "Tarsius"
**** "T. syrichta" group
***** Philippine Tarsier, "Tarsius syrichta"
***** Western or Horsfield's Tarsier, "Tarsius bancanus"
**** "T. tarsier" group
***** Spectral Tarsier, "Tarsius tarsier"
***** Dian's Tarsier, "Tarsius dentatus"
***** Lariang Tarsier, "Tarsius lariang"
***** Peleng Tarsier, "Tarsius pelengensis"
***** Sangihe Tarsier, "Tarsius sangirensis"
***** Pygmy Tarsier, "Tarsius pumilus"

Fossil record

Fossils of tarsiers and tarsiiform primates are found in Asia, Europe, and North America, and there are disputed fossils from Africa, but extant tarsiers are restricted to several Southeast Asian islands including the Philippines, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Sumatra. They also have the longest continuous fossil record of any primate genus,fact|date=December 2007 and the fossil record indicates that their dentition has not changed much, except in size, in the past 45 million years.

Conservation status

One tarsier species, Dian's Tarsier ("T. dentatus"; listed by the junior synonym "T. dianae" by the IUCN), is listed on the IUCN Red List as being Conservation Dependent. Two other species/subspecies, Horsfield's Tarsier ("T. bancanus") and its nominate subspecies, are listed as Least Concern. The Spectral Tarsier ("T. tarsier"; listed by the junior synonym "T. spectrum") is categorized as Near Threatened. All other tarsier that have been rated by the IUCN are listed as Data Deficient.

Tarsiers have never formed successful breeding colonies in captivity, and when caged, tarsiers have been known to injure and even kill themselves because of the stress. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20041015083950/http://www.szgdocent.org/pp/p-tarsir.htm Untitled Document ] ]


;General references

*Schmitz J, Ohme M, Zischler H (2001) SINE insertions in cladistic analyses and the phylogenetic affiliations of "Tarsius bancanus" to other primates. Genetics 157(2): 777-84. [http://www.genetics.org/cgi/content/full/157/2/777]

External links

* [http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/tarsier Primate Info Net "Tarsius" Factsheet]
* [http://educatedearth.net/video.php?id=2934 Video of a Tarsier]
* [http://www.fieldmuseum.org/philippine_mammals/ A Synopsis of the Mammalian Fauna of the Philippine Islands]
* [http://members.tripod.com/uakari/tarsiidae.html Tarsier behaviour: index to species]
* [http://www.bohol.ph/article.php?id=15&sid=d0813a89bdf40f41363823a76edf72f2 Descriptive Article of the Philippine Tarsier]
* [http://www.gmanews.tv/video/22285/Born-To-Be-Wild-Tarsier Video - Born To Be Wild: Tarsier - 05/08/2008]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • tarsier — [ tarsje ] n. m. • 1765; de tarse ♦ Zool. Petit mammifère prosimien, nocturne et arboricole, à la face aplatie. ● tarsier nom masculin (de tarse) Mammifère prosimien nocturne. (Les tarsiers sont de petits primates, arboricoles, à face aplatie,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Tarsier — Tar si*er, n. [Cf. F. tarsier.] See {Tarsius}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tarsier — TARSIÉR s. m. mamifer lemurian din Malaysia, nocturn, de mărimea unui şobolan, cu ochii foarte mari, care se hrăneşte cu şopârle şi insecte. (< fr. tarsier) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • tarsier — tàrsiēr m <G tarsiéra> DEFINICIJA zool. maleni polumajmun velikih očiju; živi u JI Aziji ETIMOLOGIJA fr. tarsier ≃ tarse: nožni splet …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Tarsier — (Tarser, Tarsius), Affe, so v.w. Fußthier …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • tarsier — [tär′sē ər] n. [Fr, so named by BUFFON Comte de < tarse, TARSUS, from the foot structure] any of a family (Tarsiidae) of small primates of the East Indies and the Philippines, with very large, gogglelike eyes, and a long, tufted tail: tarsiers …   English World dictionary

  • Tarsier — Tarsius Tarsiidae …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Tarsier — Koboldmakis Sulawesi Koboldmaki (Tarsius tarsier) Systematik Überordnung: Euarchontoglires …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • tarsier — /tahr see euhr, see ay /, n. a small, arboreal, nocturnal primate of the genus Tarsius, of Indonesia and the Philippines, having a long thin tail, very large immobile eyes, and prominent pads on the fingers and toes: all populations are dwindling …   Universalium

  • tarsier — Tarsius Tar si*us, n. [NL. See {Tarsus}.] (Zo[ o]l.) A genus of nocturnal lemurine mammals having very large eyes and ears, a long tail, and very long proximal tarsal bones; called also {malmag}, {spectral lemur}, {podji}, and {tarsier}. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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