Skip to content

The Aye-aye is One of Nature’s Most Fascinatingly Bizarre Creatures

Native to Madagascar, this lemur is the largest nocturnal primate in the world and has unique features that set it apart. It has bat‐like ears that allow it to echo-locate and rodent-like ever-growing incisors – both unique among primates. It is most famous for its exceptionally long and skinny fingers. In fact, they are so long that the aye-aye’s hand accounts for about 41% of the total length of the forelimb. Researchers recently found yet another unique specialisation that sets the aye-aye apart from other primates: a sixth finger on each hand. Dissections were performed to analyse the anatomy of the hand and wrist. A seventh specimen was used to create a digital reconstruction of these anatomical structures following MRI scanning and manual segmentation – a technique similar to a medical scan that allows the anatomy to be viewed in three-dimensions in a digital space. Little is known about the actual population size of aye-ayes, but they are hard to find and a large-scale loss of their habitat suggests population decline.