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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Aye-aye - the ugliest creature in the world is endangered

Aye-aye
When I showed the picture of the aye-aye to a few people, they all responded similarly: "Ewww!" Which is a pity because I think the little critter is quite a remarkable creature, especially after I learned more about it.

To me, its most fascinating trait is its middle finger. No, I don't mean that it goes around "flippin' the bird" at other animals. Rather, it's the way its finger has evolved into a tool to help it get food. Monkeys are known to use sticks to prod at tree trunks to dig bugs out. Some birds also use twigs to extract juicy fruit to eat.

Similarly, the aye-aye uses a tool to pull worms out of tree trunks... except that it doesn't need any twigs or other implements. It just uses its scrawny but long finger! Who needs twigs? Watch it in action!

Unfortunately, this creature from Madagascar faces extinction because of the ignorant human population. According to this Slate article on saving animals from extinction, it notes that the locals kill it on sight because they regard it as a bad omen.

Is it still possible to save the aye-aye and other ugly animals from man?

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