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Extinction Watch: This Lemur is marked for death


Native toMadagascar, thislemuris the world’s largest nocturnal primate and has an unusual method of fi nding food: it taps on trees to fi nd grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood using its incisors to create a small hole in which it inserts its narrow middle fi nger to pull the grubs out.

Like the woodpecker, it is capable of penetrating wood to extract the invertebrates within.

The Aye-aye is endangered and on the IUCN red list due to hunting and habitat destruction caused largely by humans setting fi res, illegal logging, making charcoal, as well as agriculture and livestock expansion.

In Madagascar, each region close to the Aye-aye’s habitat has their own beliefs of this marvelous animal. One area believes that if their middle fi nger points at someone, they are marked for death.

If one village sees the Aye-aye, they kill it and move the body to the closest village and then it gets passed along to each village until it reaches the sea. They believe that the appearance of the animal will bring death to one of the members of their village and prevent the village from existing into future generations. The genus Daubentonia was named after the French naturalist Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton by his student, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, in 1795.

French naturalist Pierre Sonnerat was the fi rst to use the vernacular name “aye-aye” in 1782 when he described and illustrated the lemur, though it was also called the “long-fi ngered lemur”.

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