written by
Hari Kunduru

Aye Aye's: Middle Fingers up to the Competition

🐾Featured Creatures 3 min read, February 19, 2020

TLDR: We talk about how Aye Ayes' (Daubentonia madagascariensis) have 6 fingers, use echolocation, how they find their food and then dive a little deeper into them as a species.

Zoptiks Animal Art

Ladies and gentlemen, today I am going to introduce you to one of the chillest creatures in the world that absolutely no thumbs about what humanity thinks of them. This monkey wanna be lemur creature will not think twice about throwing up a couple of freedom rockets to prove its point.

That's right, I'm talking about Aye Aye's because they just made the 1 o'clock news (meaning no one actually cares about them). Guess what though, today is their time to shine because humans just found out that Aye Aye's have 6 fingers. Yep, sign me up for local Ripley's museum because believe it or not that's not the only unique thing these guys have got going for them.

It turns out back in the day Aye Aye hit up its neighbor the bat and said ay yo, how do you see things out there in the wild? A week later, the bats taught the Aye Aye's how they call out to all the shawties out there and boom, Aye Ayes were using echolocation to scope out the world.

If you were normal you probably took a look at those Aye Aye fingers and thought those are some gnarly looking digits... it turns out Aye Aye's use those fingers, especially the middle one to tap that. Yes. Tap that ...branch to find food its looking to eat. Sickos. This process is called tap-foraging: Since aye-aye’s grub on insect larvae that live inside trees, they walk along a branch, tapping it with their middle finger. They then perk up their huge ears and listen to the echoing sounds coming from the tapped tree. When they get the call back from 'A Bug's Life' they start digging for gold. Then the aye-aye inserts its slender and highly flexible third (middle) finger into the hole and scopes out its jackpot. Yes, kind of like a 3rd grader in his own pot of gold.

A digital rendering of the aye-aye's hand and pseudothumb (visible here as a green structure near the wrist). (Image credit: Edwin Dickinson, NC State University)

What are they like?

No other creature on this planet comes close to the extraordinary aye-aye. It has the bushy tail of a squirrel, the ears and teeth of a rat, and the extremely elongated, super-thin, swiveling middle finger of ... well, just the aye-aye. (3)

Where do they live?

Along the east coast and in the northwestern forests of Madagascar. (2)

What do they eat?

Interior of Ramy nuts, nectar from the Traveller’s Palm tree, some fungi and insect grubs. (2)

Featured Organization

Interested in this featured creature series? Here's the down-low: they're 2-minute reads, you pick up a morsel of knowledge on the way down and it's a great conversation starter; peep the animal profile on Zoptiks for more information or a zoo near you.

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Sources Cited:

  1. https://www.livescience.com/aye-aye-six-fingers-discovered.html
  2. https://lemur.duke.edu/discover/meet-the-lemurs/aye-aye/
  3. https://www.wired.com/2013/09/absurd-creature-of-the-week-aye-aye-gives-world-the-highly-elongated-finger/