Friday mystery object #266 answer

Last week I gave you this distinctively weird looking skull to identify:


As I suspected, many of you worked out what it was straight away, but I wonder if it would have been as easy if the side view hadn’t included the mandible?

The upper dentition, especially the pair of incisors, is somewhat similar to that of a rodent, but that mandible is ludicrously massive and could only really belong to the weirdest primate in the world: the Aye-aye Daubentonia madagascariensis É. Geoffroy, 1795

So very well done to Tone Hitchcockhenstridgesj, Chris, Cindy Nelson-Viljoen, Daniel Jones, steve tornaAgata Stachowiak, palfreyman1414, boneman2014Lee Post, joe vans, Allen Hazen, Dave Taylor, Michelle, witcharachne, and Daniel Calleri.

The Aye-aye’s incisors are an adaptation for gnawing holes in wood to get at grubs inside. It finds these tasty morsels using a tapping finger and crazy bat-like ears to detect the tunnels the larvae create when feeding, with a system a bit like seismic ground response analysis.

Aye-aye by Frank Vassen 2008

Aye-aye by Frank Vassen 2008


Once the squishy prey has been detected and an entry point has been gnawed, the Aye-aye fishes it out using a specially adapted long, thin finger with a hooked claw.

Aye-aye fingers by Dr. Mirko Junge 2009

Aye-aye fingers by Dr. Mirko Junge 2009

Basically, the Aye-aye feeds rather like a woodpecker, but with the benefit of fingers and teeth. Perhaps it’s weird, but it’s most definitely wonderful!Aye_aye

2 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #266 answer

  1. May I, as an outsider in this wonderful universe, ask a question or two?

    Is it the case that any other placental mammals have large lower incisors that actually seem to overlap the upper ones on the outside, rather than the other way around?
    Do Aye Aye incisors grow continuously and get worn off by gnawing against each other? If so, how come the upper incisors have that very deep chisel-bevel shape from the side, since there seems to be nothing for them to wear against? And do any other primates demonstrate features like these – constant growth and wearing down to keep short and sharp?
    So the upper dentition looks slightly rodent-like, but do rodents have molars and premolars that look so human?

  2. Paolo,
    great write up of what is such a great example of evolution working it’s “magic” to produce a finely adapted creature. a face only an evolutionist could love?

    my only gripe: now we have to wait a whole week for another puzzle! 😦

    thank you!

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