Aye-aye – the world’s freakiest lemur
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Aye-aye – the world’s freakiest lemur

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Description
    The aye-aye, known primarily as Daubentonia madagascariensi, is considered one of the strangest primates in the whole world, to an extent in which it even was classified in the beginning as a rodent instead of a primate. 

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It is so unusual when it comes to its appearance, so much that it was confused, at first encounter, with a large species of squirrel. In mid 1800, however, it was eventually acknowledged as being a species of Lemur.
Even so, it was classified into a different group because its closest lemur relatives are unidentified till the present day. The aye-aye is known to be the largest nocturnal primate on the planet and it mainly lives in the rainforests of Madagascar.
According to Eleanor Sterling, who is the director of the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation as well as an expert on the aye-aye species, this particular lemur is regarded as one of the world’s weirdest animals known to humanity due to some atypical physical characteristics.
    First of all, because it has unceasingly growing teeth in front exactly like those of a rodent. Furthermore, it possesses a very thin middle finger, so thin that it almost consists solely of tendon and bone. A protective layer is shielding its eyes by covering them whenever the lemur is chewing wood, and pieces are flying uncontrollably in all directions. 

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These specific features aren’t present at all in other lemurs or at least in other primates.  The most part of animals possess behavioral features that permit them to adjust well to their environment, but hardly any of them are defined by such amplified morphological alterations in the body figure and shape.
Young aye-ayes mainly have their front colored in gray and a stripe is found down their back. Nevertheless, when the aye-ayes grow and become full adults, their body will be entirely concealed in a thick fur and it isn’t one of solid color. The ends of their hair on the head and back are mainly titled in white color, while the other parts of their body are normally colored in yellow or brown.

    In size, a full grown eye-eye is mainly about 3 ft long and it also has a tail that reaches their body’s length. One of aye aye’s main attributes consists in the fingers. The third one, other than the fact that is thinner than the rest of the fingers, is used specifically for tapping and grooming, while the fourth finger, which is the longest, is utilized for dragging insects out of trees.
The complicated geometry of ridges found inside the ears of eye-eyes aids to acutely concentrate not just on the echo sounding of location when tap

ping with its finger, but also to listen in a passive manner for any kind of sound made by the prey.
These ridges can be considered as the acoustic substitute of Fresnel lens, and they can be found in a wide range of unrelated animals, for instance like the aye-aye, mouse lemur, lesser galago, bat-eared fox, and some other ones too.
Female aye-ayes possess two nipples placed in the area of the groin.
The aye-aye species are typic

ally nocturnal and solitary. During daytime, they mainly sleep most of the time in their ovular nests which are situated in the highest two levels of the canopy. Individuals are inclined to sleep alone, but may allow others into their nest every once in a while, and several individuals can move in the nests at different times. 

 

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    Aye-ayes start their activity before sunset with 30 minutes and carry it on after sunset for roughly 3 hours. Male aye-ayes begin their activity ahead of females. At nighttime, aye-ayes usually switch from foraging to feeding, or grooming. When foraging, aye-ayes may gather together into groups of 2-3 individuals.
Also, aye-ayes frequently cling upside down on tree breaches and they can perch vertically or horizontally, in either one of these positions they have the ability to rest.
Moreover, aye-ayes have the capacity of using a large variety of locomotion ways, such as arboreal quadrupedalism, leaping and also head-first descent. However, forcing the locomotion might become painful on long distances, thus aye-ayes will have to bend their fingers or change their body’s position to place more of their weight caudally when moving. These types of techniques aid them to avoid finger injuries because their fingers are fragile.
The strong, opposable huge toe, rugged shoulder girdle, and powerful humerus are attributes that give aye-ayes the ability to head-first descent. Hence, they manage to use large, thin, vertical, horizontal and oblique tree branches as supports in movement.



Habitat
    Throughout history, the aye-aye species lived in the coastal forest in the east and north-west part of Madagascar, but afterwards, in 1983, it was believed that they were nearly extinct and just a few individuals were still known to be distributed there.
Later on, the aye-aye population enhanced in number and even though these populations aren’t positively big, they are spotted in several locations and in various forest habitats. The aye-aye chooses to live in dense, tropical and coastal rainforest because they find there a great deal of cover, however they’re also spread in secondary forest, bamboo thickets, mangroves as well as in coconut groves on Madagascar’s eastern coast.
Even so, due to the fact that aye-ayes are tormented by local people, they are critically endangered in their own environment by habitat loss.
    Mainly, the aye-aye spends most of its time in the highest levels of the canopy. Males keep their home extents from 200 to 500 acres, which intersect with those of other individuals. The ranges of females are, though, a bit smaller, and they don’t converge with one another’s. These creatures are characterized by solitude and many nests are created throughout the range of every animal.
When the aye-aye goes to forage and daylight is just about to happen, it’ll choose the nearest nest. Aye-ayes aren’t at all possessive or even territorial when it comes to the nests they make, and they exchange or use among themselves their nests in a routine manner.



Diet
    Aye-ayes have some fundamental needs concerning their growth and sustenance, so, in order to fulfill them, they necessitate a diet filled with fats and proteins. In the wild, aye-ayes consume between 240 and 342 kilocalories and the calorie consumption is stable during the whole year, though it’s a bit decreased in the cold season in comparison to the hot, wet and dry periods of the year.
The aye-aye’s diet is diversified, comprising fruits, nuts and plant exudations. Moreover, their favorite foods consist of breadfruit, ramy nuts, banana and coconuts, but they can feed on bamboo, lychees, mangoes and the traveler’s tree as well. Aye-ayes apply their specialized third finger to perforate the fruits’ outer skin and extract their contents.
Xylophagous, or better known as wood-eating, insect larvae constitute another significant portion of the aye-aye’s principal diet, particularly cerambycid beetle larvae. Aye-ayes possess various evolved features and a unique way of foraging that involves percussion, which is used in order to spot the location of these insects within the trees.
    Their particular third digit is utilized to pat on wood to look after empty spaces underneath the bark’s surfaces. There are contradictory points of views on whether the aye-aye has the ability to spot the reverberating sounds in these hollows or whether they can spot actually disruptions in the wood’s structure.
When the aye-aye finds a cavity, it uses its big, procumbent teeth to chew in the bark and scoops the larvae out with its long and thin third finger. The aye-aye may have various other features that may be linked to foraging conducts. These attributes consist of an increased frontal cortex and an augmented volume of the olfactory lobe along with the large bare ears, which improve hearing.



Breeding
    Formerly, it was believed that the aye-aye had a very rigorous breeding season, exactly like other lemurs had, yet in reality they appear to breed during the year, relying on the time when the female enters into season. When an aye-aye female is prepared to mate, she calls to males, which usually gather around her and will fight sharply amongst each other in order to win breeding rights.
When the gestation period that occurs for approximately five months ends, just one infant is born and passes its first couple of months in the protective nest, without being ablactated till he reaches the age of 7 months. Newborn aye-ayes will stay close to their mother till they are at least 2 years old and only after that they go away to set up a territory that belongs solely to them.
An aye-aye female is able to begin breeding when she reaches the age of 3 or 3.5 years, whereas males appear to start doing so 6 months sooner than them.



Extinction  
    In 1993, the aye-aye species were believed to be extinct, but were found again in 1957. In 1966, 9 individuals were sent to Nosy Mangave, an island situated close to Maroantsetra on the east part of Madagascar. New done researches reveal that the aye-aye is more widely distributed than was previously believed, and its conservation condition was switched to Endangered in 2014.
The mysterious and tree habitation lifestyle of the aye-aye entails that is has just a few natural predators in its natural environment, with the agile and evenly nocturnal Fossa representing their most fierce natural predator, besides the birds of prey and snakes that hunt the little and weaker young aye-ayes.
    However, as a matter of fact, humans are the hugest menace to the aye-aye because populations have been wiped out from most of their native forest due to all sorts of beliefs of the local people who think that it is a bad omen to spot one of them. In other regions where they’re not regarded in this manner and don’t induce fear, the aye-aye is targeted for bushmeat.
Nevertheless, the greatest threat to today’s population consists in habitat loss engendered by deforestation as well as by increasing human settlements that entrench the natural habitat of the aye-aye.



Interesting facts
• The second name of the aye-aye, Daubentonia madagascariensis, comes from the French naturalist known by the name of Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton and also from the island on which it was discovered, more precisely Madagascar.
• Some natives of Madagascar call the aye-aye “hay-hay” supposedly by imitating its own vocalization. Nevertheless, the aye-aye doesn’t produce this kind of vocalization.
• The aye-aye was also speculated to have a European origin due to a European listener who overheard the exclamation of fear and surprise, “aiee!-aiee!”, when a Madagascan ran into it. Even so, this name is only present in distant villages, so it’s improbable to have European origins.
• Another speculation is that “aye-aye” comes from “heh heh”, which in Malagasy means “I don’t know”. If it so, then this name has emerged probably from Madagascan people telling “heh heh” to Europeans to refrain saying out loud the name of a feared, mystical creature.
• The primary motive, for why the aye-aye population is decreasing in number in a critical manner for years now, is that local people tend to believe that these creatures are too strange and lots of them think that spotting one generates bad luck.
• There’s a story saying that if an aye-aye directs its long middle digit at someone then he’ll die, and other people are worried that just by seeing one will cause the death of the habitant. Therefore, the only solution for the villagers, in these two cases, is to put an end to them by killing the aye-aye sooner the better, because it has caused the extinction of populations in some regions.
• The aye-aye female is prepared for breeding once every 2-3 years, just when it enters into this specific season. However, there’s no fixed breeding period and the females give birth to just one infant after a gestation that lasts 180 years, more or less, ends.
• The average lifespan of an aye-aye bred in captivity is between 20 and 23 years. However, its lifespan in the wild is unidentified.
• Aye-ayes are mild and curious creatures and also rather harmless despite the fact that they’re aggressive towards one another.
• It has unceasingly growing teeth in front exactly like those of a rodent.
• It possesses a very thin middle finger, so thin that it almost consists solely of tendon and bone.Their particular third digit is utilized to pat on wood to look after empty spaces underneath the bark’s surfaces. There are contradictory points of views on whether the aye-aye has the ability to spot the reverberating sounds in these hollows or whether they can spot actually disruptions in the wood’s structure.
    When the aye-aye finds a cavity, it uses its big, procumbent teeth to chew in the bark and scoops the larvae out with its long and thin third finger.
• A protective layer is shielding its eyes by covering them whenever the lemur is chewing wood, and pieces are flying uncontrollably in all directions.

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Sources
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aye-aye
http://a-z-animals.com/animals/aye-aye-/
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Daubentonia_madagascariensis/
http://www.arkive.org/aye-aye/daubentonia-madagascariensis/
http://animals.pawnation.com/ayeaye-usually-live-in-2430.html
http://www.amnh.org/explore/science-bulletins/bio/documentaries/lemurs-of-madagascar/the-uncommon-aye-aye-an-interview-with-eleanor-sterling
http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/Ive-Got-My-Aye-Aye-On-You-317605.html
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/aye-aye-facts.html
http://www.welikethat.de/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ayeaye.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2e/Aye-Aye_Daubentonia_madagascariensis_in_Copenhagen_%28Left_Hand%29.jpg
http://tierdoku.com/images/Daubentonia_madagascariensis.JPG
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/Daubentonia_madagascariensis_mg_0199.jpg
http://www.biolib.cz/IMG/GAL/BIG/184657.jpg
http://www.biolib.cz/IMG/GAL/BIG/181480.jpg

Published by Claudia Barbu

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