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In the gloom it came along the branches towards me, its round, hypnotic eyes blazing, its spoon-like ears turning to and fro like radar dishes, its white whiskers twitching and moving like sensors; its black hands, with their thin fingers, the third seeming terribly elongated, tapping delicately on the branches as it moved along.
- from The Aye-aye and I by Gerald Durrell
The aye-aye is the only living representative of its family, Daubentoniidae1. Other names among the Malagasy (the people of Madagascar) include Hay-Hay, Ahay and Aiay. Due to confusion over its appearance it was classified as a rodent in the 18th Century. The aye-aye is so unusual that it is not only strange within the context of primates; it is one of the most distinctive mammals on earth (Mittermeier et al, 1994).
It is, unfortunately, also extremely endangered. It was featured in the Douglas Adams radio show and book Last Chance to See. On 7 April, 2005, the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN - The World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the International Primatological Society (IPS), in collaboration with Conservation International (CI) released a report from Madagascar titled, Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates - 2004-2006.
1 Order Primates, Suborder Prosimii, Family Daubentoniidae, Genus Daubentonia, and Species madagascariensis.
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