Friday mystery object #91 answer


On Friday I gave you this cute little chap to identify:

I was very impressed with Neil’s comment, which managed to convey the scientific name of the species without giving it away. Here’s what he said:

I see one eye and two fingers

which neatly leads us to Cyclopes didactylus (Linnaeus, 1758) or the Silky Anteater.

It wasn’t only Neil who made a comment that managed to convey a correct identification without leaving spoilers – Jack Ashby and  Rachel also managed it, dropping hints relating to the common name. Several others also worked out what it was, at least to the level of the family – so a hearty well done to everyone!

Sir Pilkington Smythe has already written about this bizarre little animal on his excellent blog, so I won’t go into a huge amount of detail here (that and I need to write a presentation for tomorrow about blogging – where I will emphatically say that that you shouldn’t just link to another source of information for the sake of convenience…).

Silky Anteater - Cyclopes didactylusOne thing that is worth mentioning is the pose that these chaps are often photographed in – the boxing stance. This is their standard pose when they feel threatened, presumably it’s a way for them to show off their impressive claws and make defending their head easier. I certainly wouldn’t fancy a jab from those little weapons. The claws and the strange pads on the wrist are adaptations to an arboreal (tree dwelling) lifestyle, as is their long and muscular prehensile tail.

These weird animals could put one in mind of some kind of cute fantastical critter – like a Tribble, Ewok or Gremlin, but they are of course real animals and not toys. This is an issue that can have serious consequences for a species, since the pet trade can have a huge impact on particularly cute and unusual animals – the Philippine Tarsier is a good example of this and the Silky Anteater also faces this problem [link opens pdf].

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