Edge of Evolution: Silent Screech of the Tarsier


By Josie Garthwaite|Monday, October 29, 2012
RELATED TAGS: RAINFOREST, SOUND
tarsier
tarsier

 

Photo by Peter Slavik

A saucer-eyed Philippine tarsier opens its mouth wide, squints, and lets out a great burst of . . . silence. The gape-mouthed expression of these primates has long been considered an act of yawning or stretching. But Sharon Gursky-Doyen, a biological anthropologist at Texas A & M University, became convinced the pint-size creatures were actually making ultrasonic screeches. She set up microphones at the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary and found the animals were emitting sounds up to 75 kilohertz; humans cannot hear past 20 kilohertz. “It was mind-boggling,” she says. “It makes you reevaluate 
everything you’ve done, heard, and observed.” The shrill call may serve as an alarm signal that is undetectable to approaching predators.

ADVERTISEMENT
Comment on this article
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
DSC-CV070816
+