A Madagascan Aye-Aye lemur has been captured on camera picking its own nose and eating it. Scientists say that this is the first time this type of lemur has been recorded doing this activity. The Naural History Museum of London reports that there are only 12 known species of primate known to pick their noses, including humans.
The aye-aye was filmed by Prof Anne-Claire Fabre from the University of Bern. “I wanted to know where is this finger going?” she told the BBC, and so prompting scientific research.
Aye-aye lemurs are native to the island of Madegascar and are not found anywhere else in the world in the wild. They have incredibly long spindly fingers and they have 6 fingers to each hand. Two of these fingers are incredibly long and are designed for extracting insects from rotten wood which makes up a large part of the primate’s diet.
This particular aye-aye was actually filmed in Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina, USA, and answers to the name of Kali. The findings from the research were published in the journal of Zoology.
Fabre was apparently so intrigued by where the lemur’s finger could possibly be going, that she recreated a 3D analysis and reconstruction of the lemur’s head.
“It was going into the sinus and from the sinus into the throat and into the mouth,” Fabre explained.
She continues to explain that because of its perception of being an undesirable habit in humans, there has been very little scientific study into nose-picking behaviours. It could have advantageous qualities she suggests, in terms of immunity.
“When I first saw this video, I was really struck by the nose picking,” said Roberto Portela Miguez, the senior curator in charge of mammals at London’s Natural History Museum and a co-author of the research, in a museum release. “It’s a surprise because aye-ayes are quite an iconic species, so you would think it would have been reported somewhere before now.”
Because of the aye-aye’s bizarre looks, they have traditionally been thought to bring bad luck. Along with the destruction of their natural habitat the primate is listed as an endangered species.
Image credit: nomis-simon, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons