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Tarsiers are small animals with enormous eyes and very long hind limbs. Their feet have extremely elongated tarsus
bones, from which the animals get their name. The head and body range
from 10 to 15 cm in length, but the hind limbs are about twice this
long (including the feet), and they also have a slender tail from 20 to
25 cm long. Their fingers are also elongated, with the third finger
being about the same length as the upper arm. Most of the digits have
nails, but the second and third toes of the hind feet bear claws
instead, which are used for grooming. Tarsiers have very soft, velvety
fur, which is generally buff, beige, or ochre in color.
Unlike other prosimians, tarsiers have no tooth-comb, and their dental formula is also unique:Vision
All tarsier species are nocturnal
in their habits, but like many nocturnal organisms some individuals may
show more or less activity during the daytime. Unlike many nocturnal
animals, however, tarsiers lack a light-reflecting area (tapetum lucidum) of the eye. They also have a fovea, atypical for nocturnal animals.
The Tarsier brain is different from other primates in terms of the arrangement of the connections between the two eyes and the lateral geniculate nucleus, which is the main region of the thalamus
that receives visual information. The sequence of cellular layers
receiving information from the ipsilateral (same side of the head) and
contralateral (opposite side of the head) eyes in the lateral
geniculate nucleus distinguishes tarsiers from lemurs, lorises, and
monkeys, which are all similar in this respect 
Some neuroscientists suggested that "this apparent difference
distinguishes tarsiers from all other primates, reinforcing the view
that they arose in an early, independent line of primate evolution" 
They are primarily insectivorous,
and catch insects by jumping at them. They are also known to prey on
small vertebrates, such as birds, snakes, lizards, and bats.
As they jump from tree to tree, tarsiers can catch even birds in motion.
takes about six months, and tarsiers give birth to single offspring.
Young tarsiers are born furred, and with open eyes, and are able to
climb within a day of birth. They reach sexual maturity after one year.
Adults live in pairs, with a home range of around one hectare.Classification
Tarsier tree climbing
position of extant tarsiers within the order Primates has been debated
for much of the past century, and tarsiers have alternately been
classified with strepsirrhine primates in the suborder Prosimii, or as the sister group to the simians (=Anthropoidea) in the infraorder Haplorrhini. Analysis of SINE insertions, a type of macromutation to the DNA, is argued to offer very persuasive evidence for the monophyly of Haplorrhini, where other lines of evidence, such as DNA sequence
data, had remained ambiguous. Thus, some systematists argue that the
debate is conclusively settled in favor of a monophyletic Haplorrhini.
At a lower level, it has been indicated that the tarsiers, currently all placed in the genus Tarsius
, actually should be placed in two (a Sulawesi and a Philippine-Western group) or three separate genera (a Sulawesi, Philippine and Western group).
Species level taxonomy is complex, with morphology often being of limited use compared to vocalizations. Several "vocal morphs" may represent undescribed taxa (such as North Sulawesi "T. tarsier
", and a tarsier from the Togian Islands), as may also be the case for a number of poorly known isolated populations (such as the Basilan, Leyte and Dinagat populations of the T. syrichta
group, and tarsiers on Siau Island that tentatively have been assigned to T. sangirensis
Further confusion exists over the validity of certain names. Among others, the widely used T. dianae
has been shown to be a junior synonym of T. dentatus
, and comparably T. spectrum
is now considered a junior synonym of T. tarsier
On the contrary T. tarsier
has been considered a junior synonym of T. syrichta
, but features of the holotype indicate this is incorrect.