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aye-aye

(ī`ī`), name for an aberrant primate, Daubentonia madagascariensis, related to the lemurslemur
, name for prosimians, or lower primates, of two related families, found only on Madagascar and adjacent islands. Lemurs have monkeylike bodies and limbs, and most have bushy tails about as long as the body. They have pointed muzzles and large eyes.
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 but distinguished by its specialized teeth and fingers. A large nocturnal and arboreal primate, it is found in dense bamboo forests in two isolated regions of Madagascar. The aye-aye is about the size of a house cat. It has silver and black fur with reddish underparts, a long, bushy tail, and a small, round head with large eyes and rounded, naked ears. Its fingers and toes are extremely long and end in claws; the thumb and big toes are opposable. The aye-aye uses its exceedingly slender third finger to dig into bark for wood-boring insect larvae, which it detects by means of its acute hearing. It feeds on larvae, other small animals, eggs, and fruit, as well as on bamboo and sugarcane. Its teeth are adapted for gnawing and it was formerly thought to be a rodent because of its large, chisel-shaped, continuously growing incisors. The aye-aye has no fear of humans and will strike at them if annoyed. It has been the object of superstitious fear. It is now almost extinct. It is classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Daubentoniidae.

Aye-Aye

 

(Daubentonia madagascariensis), a mammal of the suborder Lemuroidea; the sole representative of the family Daubentoniidae. The body length is 40 cm, and the tail length is 60 cm. The head is large, with a short snout and large and leathery ears. The tail is bushy. The coloration of the coat ranges from dark brown to black. There is one pair of mammae, in the inguinal area. The hind legs are longer than the front legs. All the digits have claws, but only the big toe has a flat nail. The middle finger, which is very slender and long, is used to remove insects from cracks in tree bark and similar places. There are 18 teeth, and the large front teeth are ever-growing.

Aye-ayes inhabit thickets in the rain forests of eastern Madagascar. They are nocturnal animals that live singly or in pairs. Aye-ayes feed on mangoes, coconuts, the pith of bamboo and sugarcane, and arboreal beetles and grubs. They sleep in tree hollows or nests. Their numbers are very few.

aye-aye

[′ī‚ī]
(vertebrate zoology)
Daubentonia madagascariensis. A rare prosimian primate indigenous to eastern Madagascar; the single species of the family Daubentoniidae.
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