Best Gollum impersonator
The Aye Aye lemur is the world’s largest nocturnal primate but with its huge ears, gremlin eyes and shrivelled skin this creepy creature also wins first prize for its impersonation of Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
Where does it live?
The aye aye can only be found in the wild in the tropical forests of Madagascar.
How many are left?
Unfortunately the local villagers are a superstitious bunch and they believe that the nocturnal aye aye brings death to anyone it points at. The solution to the curse is to beat the aye aye to death which doesn’t really give the aye aye much of a chance to explain itself. Such behaviour has put this remarkable primate on the critically endangered list.
5 weird Aye Aye facts:
1. It acts like a woodpecker
Like a woodpecker, the aye aye taps bark to find tasty grubs to eat. This rather unusual habit for a primate is because woodpeckers (and squirrels) are absent in the aye aye’s native habitat of Madagascar. So it has stepped in and evolved to take over that particular ecological niche.
2. Its bony finger
Not satisfied with running off with the Best Gollum impersonator award the Aye Aye also snatches the best E.T impression award thanks to its long, bony heat changing middle finger. It uses this remarkable digit like a specialised kebab stick – poking it into small holes in trees to skewer grubs and insects which it can then eat for lunch (without the chilli sauce). According to the latest research, the aye aye actually warms this finger up before tapping on tree trunks to find food. Indeed, researchers found that the digit was colder than the others but warmed by up to 6C during foraging. It could be that the aye-aye saves energy by keeping this super cool digit cool.
3. Rotating ears and echolation
To help it detect even the faintest of yawns from a delicious beetle grub, the aye aye can rotate its enormous ears independently. It is also the only primate to use echolation like a bat – this helps it find grubs buried deep within the tree bark.
4. Peculiar mating position
When aye ayes get together, which unfortunately for them is less and less often, they hang from a tree and mate upside down for a couple of hours.
5. It took a long time to work out what it was
When it was first discovered, taxonomists at first classified the aye aye as a rodent before finally giving it its own primate family: Daubentoniidae.
Another weird nocturnal primate that has eyes literally bigger than its stomach is the tiny and cute Philippine tarsier.