Like Yoda, these creatures look. Worry about copyright infringement, nature should.
Just in time for May the Fourth, the nerdiest holiday, two oddly familiar-looking new species of tarsier — a small, nocturnal primate — have been discovered in Indonesia, according to a paper published in Primate Conservation.
While Stuart Freeborn, the man who designed Yoda, has said he modeled the muppet on himself, it’s hard to deny a certain resemblance.
Gursky’s spectral tarsier, one of the new species. Oh, and a muppet too. Photos from Myron Shekelle and Lucasfilm.
Yup, that’s a Yoda.
The two new species were found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and have been named Gursky’s spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrumgurskyae) and Jatna’s tarsier (Tarsius supriatnai).
Giant eyes and ears and the ability to rotate their head like an owl lets tarsiers pinpoint predators and prey in the darkness.
They can jump 40 times their body length, which I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some Jedi do too (except when someone else has the high ground).
Tarsiers evolved a long time ago — 60 million years ago, to be precise — and though fossils of tarsiers are widespread, today they live in a place (likely) far, far away: just a few Southeast Asian nations like Indonesia. Unfortunately, deforestation has cleared much of the habitat tarsiers and other jungle creatures call home.
We humans like to blast off to explore new galaxies, but it’s also pretty incredible how much we’ve yet to discover here on Earth.
A tarsier in the Philippines. Photo from Joe Sinclair/AFP/Getty Images.
Scientists are still discovering new species at an incredible rate. These two little critters are the 80th and 81st new primate species to be found since the year 2000.
Perhaps Russell Mittermeier, co-author of the paper, said it best. After all, if we’re still discovering some of our closest living relatives, he said, "imagine how much we still have to learn about the rest of life on Earth."