Here is a video from BBC on the tarsiers of Bohol. Nice but faulty.
The nice part. I am glad to see Nong Lito Pizarras being interviewed. He knows these primates better than anyone. He has no graduate degree to his credit but his knowledge about the primate is worth a library of books. His experience working with tarsiers has proved indispensable in the conservation efforts of the Philippine Tarsier Foundation, Inc. Absolutely no tarsier research project has ever been done in Bohol without the help of Nong Lito. While graduate students have moved on, Nong Lito remains in Bohol, dutifully attending to the conservation demands of this primate species.
The faulty part. There are glaring errors in the BBC tarsier report. While the tarsier is indeed a fascinating primate, it is not the world’s smallest nor the oldest primate species as BBC contends. With regards to the claim that the tarsier is the smallest primate, Philippine tarsiers’ head and body length is 11.7-12.7 cm while its average weight is 67-112 g. Compare this for example to a mouse lemur species (M. jollyae), its average head and body length is at 5.3 cm and average weight is 61.3 g. Is the Philippine tarsier the oldest primate? A cursory look at fossil primates automatically disqualifies the tarsier as the oldest primate. Besides, primatologists are of the consensus that the Philippine tarsiers are more recent than the other tarsier species from Borneo and Indonesia. In a previous post, we noted that ” Philippine tarsiers may have migrated from Borneo through the Sulu archipelago, arriving sometime in the late Miocene to mid-Pleistocene.” Furthermore, there were a bunch of primate species whose existence can be traced back to the late Eocene like the lemurs of Madagascar.
The worst offense in the BBC video report is classifying tarsiers as marsupials. This completely removes the T. syrichta from the primate order. Tarsiers do not put their infants in a pouch but “park” their infants. Relative to the mother’s size, tarsiers have one of the largest infants in the entire animal kingdom (30% of the mother’s body weight). Mothers have to leave their infants in order to forage and then return to pick the infant up (this is called “parking”). I cannot imagine tarsiers having an over-sized infant inside a marsupium. This would render the primate immobile and break all the ankle bones of this vertical leaper and climber if it attempts to jump to the next branch. Suffice it to say that BBC, please, not all animals that leap are kangaroos.
Here is BBC’s video:
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