Tree-Dwelling Primate Called Tarsier Sends and Receives Ultrasonic Calls

Farris Jabr in Scientific American:

ScreenHunter_21 Feb. 11 16.23Let’s be honest: tarsiers look odd. Among the smallest of all primates, most species of tarsier would fit easily in the palm of your hand. They have long, slender, largely hairless tails and elongated fingers with knobby knuckles and mushroom-cap finger pads.

To fully confront the tarsier’s bizarre anatomy, you must stare it in the face. It will stare back at you with the largest eyes relative to body size of any mammal—eyes that shimmer in the daylight like peeled grapes. Surely such eyes—each of which is as big as the tarsier’s brain—belong on the face of a frog or a squid or an alien, rather than that of a furry tree-climber.

Now, scientists have discovered that the tarsier is even stranger than we realized. Apparently, these tiny primates can send and receive ultrasonic calls, joining a select club of mammals with the same acoustic talent—namely, whales, dolphins, cats, rats and bats. Researchers already knew that tarsiers make at least 15 distinct calls—all of which are audible to people—but until now no one had good evidence that they also communicate with ultrasonic shrieks, although some scientists guessed they might.

More here.