Monday, September 29, 2008

Material for President and Vice:Food for Thought

drawing by marguerita

In a moment of historic drama in the Capitol and on Wall Street and considering that neither presidential candidate offers any significant proof of understanding the issues of survival, preoccupation and the meaning (or increasing lack thereof) of the human condition, and global harmony,we must look around and search for more unique individuals,with a background that is more cerebral and therefore more capable to give us the answers that all of us are looking for on this earthly journey.

The aye-aye is a primate -- the same order that we human beings belong to. What did you learn about the social behavior of aye-ayes?

We think they're relatively solitary, but I did follow several individuals who seemed to be moving in pairs. One animal would be in a tree feeding and another animal would be in an adjacent tree feeding. And then they would call to each other. They'd make those calls right before one individual moved to another tree -- and then the second individual would follow. So it seemed that they were foraging in tandem. That was kind of unusual and something that we hadn't seen before.
Research scientist Eleanor Sterling spent almost two years stumbling through the dark forests of Madagascar in an effort to better understand the aye-eye, perhaps one of the most endangered species on the planet.

(Mittermeier et al. 1994; Simons 1995; Sterling 1995).Other unique morphological features of the aye-aye are its inguinal (located near the groin) mammary glands and nipples and its persistent oogenesis in which the female produces ova throughout her lifetime (Petter-Rousseaux & Bourlière 1965; Sterling 1993a). Also, the aye-aye possesses the largest brain among the prosimians (Erickson 1995). A final feature very rarely found in primates is the presence of a nictitating membrane (third eyelid), which moistens the eye when it becomes dry (Sterling 1993a; Sterling & Feistner 2000). This membrane may also protect the eye from wood debris when the aye-aye is gnawing on wood to extract larvae (Sterling 1993a).(Note about blinking)

The ears of the aye-aye are extremely large and moveable, presumably to assist in locating larvae in wood cavities through percussive foraging (Simons 1995). Percussive foraging may in fact rely on touch and not on auditory clues at all (Erickson 1994). The aye-aye possesses large, ever-growing incisors, which it uses to gnaw wood and to access the subsurface larvae it locates through tapping. This feature of ever-growing teeth is unique among primates (Simons 1995). It also uses its rodent-like teeth to gnaw at nuts and hard-shelled fruits (Sterling et al. 1994, Sterling 1994b).

There is little to no sexual dimorphism in the aye-aye (Feistner & Sterling 1995).

No comments: