Well, Tarsier isn’t really a species, it’s more like a group (family, if you want to get taxonomic) of furry, fluffy little primates with two fun distinctions that make them, among other things, an interesting bunch.
For starters, they have big eyes. No, srsly. HUGE eyes. Each one of their eyes is as big as their entire brain, which boggles the mind (har har).
By now, you would have guessed that the Tarsier is primarily nocturnal – and you’d be right. Although they do sometimes operate during the day, these little bastards sneak around at night and prey on small creatures and insects.
Tarsiers are named after their ridiculously enlarged tarsus bones – they have very long limbs and fingers compared to the rest of their body – and that makes them Ninja-esque climbers and branch hoppers. Wikipedia here even says that they can catch a bird in mid-air!
Since the Tarsiers have features that are unlike those of any other nocturnal primate (they lack a distinctive type of tissue in their eyes commonly found in all nocturnal primates), it’s possible that Tarsiers represent a very early branch of the primate phylogentic tree. Wikipedia mentions fossils, but I didn’t find any comparative dates or phylogenetic trees. Nevertheless, I think it’s reasonable to assume that such elaborate anatomical differences are the result of early branching and not loss (presumably as a result of changing selective pressures)
It’s also worth noting that their fossil record didn’t change much in 45 million years, as is the case for coelacanths. I should note that when I say “didn’t change much”, I mean that there HAD been changes, only not many of them – wikipedia mentions modified dendition. This should indicate that some of the animals they preyed on co-evolved with them.
The first mammals were probably shrew-like, and weren’t that similar to the primates we see today, but I’m thinking mammals probably throve well as small night-creatures, patiently waiting for those arrogant giant dinosaurs to bite the dust instead of just their heads.
Now, I wonder if I can have one of these fellers as a pet?