tarsier (tärˈsēər) [key], small, nocturnal, forest-dwelling prosimian primate, genus Tarsius. There are at least three species found in the Philippines, in Sumatra and Borneo, and in Sulawesi. Tarsiers are about 6 in. (15 cm) long with a 10 in. (25 cm) hairless tail, and weigh about 4.5 oz (130 g). The body is covered with dense brown fur. Enormous round eyes are set close together in a flat face. Tarsiers' legs are specialized for climbing and jumping and end in long, thin digits bearing adhesive pads. They feed on insects and reptiles. They are believed to mate for life and to form family groups. Tarsiers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Tarsiidae.

See M. Kavanagh, Monkeys, Apes and Other Primates (1983); J. R. Napier and P. H. Napier, The Natural History of the Primates (1985).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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