Aye-ayes Have Many Unusual Characteristics

Aye-ayes Have Many Unusual Characteristics

Scientists use animal classification systems based on old evolutionary assumptions. The result is that many times an animal turns up that doesn’t fit any evolutionary model. An excellent example of this is a species of long-fingered lemurs called aye-ayes. They are nocturnal animals found only in Madagascar. Aye-ayes have many unusual characteristics giving a name that comes from a local phrase meaning something like “I don’t know.” Here are a few of the aye-aye’s traits:

1) They have large round eyes, which aid in night vision.
2) They use their continually growing incisor teeth to tear a hole in trees to reach grubs. Their teeth are so strong they can chew through cement blocks.
3) Their long middle finger is skeletal and has a ball-and-socket joint used to hook onto wood-boring grubs.
4) Their big toe is opposable to enable them to hang from tree branches.
5) They have fur with guard hairs they can raise to appear to double their size.
6) They use a unique system of foraging by percussive tapping on wood. They sense the echo with their bat-like ears to detect hollow areas where grubs are.
7) They build elaborate spherical nests made of leaves and branches.

Because of their teeth, nesting behavior, and long tail, your first guess might be that they are rodents. Despite the face of a possum, the teeth of a mouse, and the ear of a bat, they are classified as primates. This lemur is so unusual it has its own taxonomic family.

Aye-ayes have many unusual characteristics that point out weaknesses in the evolutionary taxonomic system. Systems such as cladistic taxonomy have gained weight as science discovers more animals like this in fossils and places like Madagascar. From an apologetics standpoint, it seems clear that God has created a variety of animals and given them characteristics to fill various ecological niches. Aye-ayes seem to be a special creation for a unique environment.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: World Wildlife Federation magazine for Spring 2021, Britannica and National Geographic websites for 3/10/21.