Tue. Mar 9th, 2021

JAKARTA — Conservation authorities recently rescued an unusual baby tarsier, one of the smallest known primates, from a fruit garden in Indonesia’s northern Sulawesi island. The discovery has prompted mounting calls from conservationists to protect the animal from wildlife traders and its natural habitat from further degradation. The rescue of the Gurky’s spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrumgurskyae) took place on Feb. 5, and the animal has since been under the care of a veterinarian from the North Sulawesi provincial conservation agency. Authorities have diagnosed the baby tarsier, whose species was only described by scientists in 2017, with leucism, a condition similar to albinism, as its whole body is completely covered with white hair, but its eyes are still dark-colored. “This is the first I have seen or heard of a leucistic tarsier,” Myron Shekelle, a biology professor at Western Washington University in the U.S. and one of the scientists who described T. spectrumgurskyae, told Mongabay in an email. Indonesia’s Sulawesi, the world’s 11th-largest island Tarsiers, which are found only on a handful of islands in Southeast Asia, have fur that typically ranges between gray and dark brown. While albinism is the absence of melanin, leucism is the partial loss of pigmentation, which can cause skin, hair or feathers to appear white; but the cells in the eyes remain unaffected by the condition, unlike with albinism. Wirdateti, a primatologist with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said cases of leucism had previously only been found in one other nocturnal primate native to…This article was originally published on Mongabay
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