New Tarsier Genus Named After ‘Tarsier Man’

Nong Lito, Dennis Bait-it, and a farmer resting after a trek in the secondary forest of Corella

Because of his dedication to the conservation of the Philippine tarsiers, Carlito Pizarras, popularly known as Nong Lito, is now immortalized in the annals of scientific literature after a new Tarsier genus was named after him.

Groves and Shekelle, in a paper published in the International Journal of Primatology, said that molecular and morphological evidences warrant a revision of the tarsier taxonomy from one genus, Tarsius, to three genera, Tarsius, Cephalopachus, and Carlito.

The figure below (from the Groves and Shekelle paper) summarizes the most conspicuous features for the three genera:

According to the authors, the three genera are found in distinct biogeographic regions : “Tarsius is found on Sulawesi and surrounding islands; Cephalopachus is found on a restricted subset of Sundaland, principally southern parts of Sumatra and the island of Borneo; Carlito is found on islands of the southern Philippines that were a single Ice Age landmass, sometimes called Greater Mindanao.”

Etymologically, the new genus, Carlito, is from Carlito, “diminutive man of the countryside.” The authors said that this comes from “the German Karl or Carl (country man), and the diminutive suffix from Spanish, -ito.” They propose this name because it is “an apt description of tarsiers as small primates of the countryside, but more particularly in recognition of Carlito Pizarras, the “Tarsier Man” of the Philippines, featured in nature films such as The Littlest Alien, a man of the Visayan countryside who dedicated his life to the pursuit of knowledge about and the conservation of the Philippine Tarsiers.”

The three biogeographic regions of the genera (figure from Groves and Shekelle paper):

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Colin Groves and Myron Shekelle (2010). The Genera and Species of Tarsiidae International Journal of Primatology

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7 thoughts on “New Tarsier Genus Named After ‘Tarsier Man’

  1. Glad to see a new paper on tarsier and certainly good that Lito’s work is being recognised. Keep up the good work Lito ;)

  2. Congratulations! Ingko Lito, we are soooo proud of you, you deserved it, keep up the good work, we love you too, hopefully see you soon.

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