The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingGursky's Spectral Tarsier - Issue Thirty-Three
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Gursky's Spectral Tarsier  from Christiano Artuso The Gursky's Spectral Tarsier is a species endemic to the Indonesian islands of Southeast Asia. Although their fossil relatives have been found in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa, modern tarsiers are restricted to Pulau Peleng, and Pulau Selajar, although most live on the northern peninsula of Sulawesi Island where they have likely lived for more than 40 million years. Tarsiers evolved from a diurnal, or daytime-dwelling, ancestor, splitting from other monkeys and apes around the time the dinosaurs died out, about 64.2 to 58.4 million years ago. They are found in primary and secondary rainforests, though they prefer secondary growth forests. Their habitat ranges from the lowland evergreen rainforest near sea level to the lower montane rainforest up to 1500 m, although they have also been found in mangroves and scrub forest. These tiny tree-dwellers are among the smallest known primates, and have the biggest eyes of any mammal relative to their body weight. Their head-body length ranges from 9.5 to 14 cm and tail length ranges from 20 to 26 cm, and their eyes are larger than their brain. They have the most acute night vision of all primates, and even if their head is immobile due to large eye size, this is compensated for by the ability to rotate the head 180 degrees. The gestation period is approximately 6 months, and births also usually occur during May or November. Females give birth to a single offspring, which is born fully furred and with its eyes open. Newborns are precocial and are able to climb at just one day of age. Both crepuscular and nocturnal, they are very active throughout the night. At dusk, they travel for about 30 minutes until they find a forage site. They move through the trees and can leap more than 40 times the length of their body. As morning approaches, spectral tarsiers sing as they return to their sleeping sites, either as a duet with their mate or in a family chorus. These songs signal to neighboring groups that a territory is occupied. They mark their territories with urine and glandular secretions. They eat live animals, such as flying insects such as moths, locusts, beetles and cicadas. They occasionally eat small vertebrates, such as lizards or bats. Once a prey item is targeted, a tarsier ambushes its prey with a sudden lunge, grasps it with its long, slender fingers, and bites to kill it. The tarsier then returns to its perch to consume its prey. This form of ambush hunting requires excellent hand-eye coordination. Tarsiers can eat 10% of their own body weight every 24 hours, and they drink water several times throughout the night. Potential predators of spectral tarsiers include arboreal snakes, civets, monitor lizards, humans, owls and other raptors, and feral cats. If a predator, particularly a snake, is identified, they emit an alarm call. This initiates mobbing behavior, in which numerous tarsiers gather and approach the predator as a group, screaming, lunging, and even biting. Mob groups usually consist of adult males from neighboring groups, which is interesting as most spectral tarsier social groups only contain one territorial adult male. This grouping by neighboring males suggests some form of cooperation among males during predator mobbing. The species is still considered vulnerable due to habitat destruction caused by logging. Logging reduces tarsier densities through the destruction of preferred sleeping sites such as strangler fig trees. Strangler figs are removed from human-utilized forests because they are seen as a threat to other commercially valuable trees. This bleak situation indicates that some primate species in Sulawesi may go extinct before they have even been identified.

   


Last Woman Standing

by

Jude Brigley

Every woman has a story the article said.

She ponders this over her coffee. She thinks it could be his hands linger a little too long on the small of the back or the shiny knee is cupped in his hand, then withdrawn leaving her wondering if she is over-sensitive.

Is the 'You look nice today' from the colleague at work, a gracious compliment or is it a sign of disrespect?

She must be ever vigilant but brushes off the day's encounters. There are places her mind does not want to go. Close calls which could have turned out differently.

Women did not speak about them then. Strangely, they felt ashamed, as if their naivetÚ had let the side down and it was their shame to find themselves in a locked room or a lonely place with someone they thought they could trust. Misreading signs on their part could become a charge that they had given out the wrong signals. There were those women who still believed that such attention was a compliment and all was fair in love and war. But now she thought how blasÚ they had been to believe that war of any kind was ever fair.

Thinking back, she remembers accepting a lift from university to her apartment, from an old man with bevelled glasses.

She was in a hurry and needed to get home. She had accepted, thinking of her own grandfather and the old men of her own town. She often talked with them about politics and world events in the sanctuary of the town's library.

The journey was only two miles but on the way he spoke about her studies and then asked her about her sex life. She was shocked as he continued to probe her history while she tried not to show alarm and disgust. She had enough presence of mind to give him a false address and insisted he stopped on a street a few blocks from her house. He did but looking around she was alarmed to see that the only people were two hundred yards away. She tried the door, but it was locked.

'Tell me about your sex life,' he leered, leaning towards her, the light gleaming on his glasses.

I don't have one,' she said, which was true, as she was very innocent at eighteen.

He reached out his arm as if to grab her and she said firmly, 'You come any nearer and I will scream at the top of my voice.' He gave a small laugh and she kicked the handle of the car door which gave way and the door swung open. She jumped out and shouted at him 'I know your car number and I will report you.'

He sped off but she hadn't reported him or told anyone. She had purged the memory from her brain. Why? A part of her blamed herself for having got in the car. This is what we did, she thought. We kept it quiet in a conspiracy of silence. Scratch any female life and something unpleasant spills out. It wasn't as bad as the incidents young women reported now.

Or did she not think it so bad because her younger self was speaking in her mind about it.

There were other occasions too that now came to her.

The older boys in the park taking out their penises and shaking them about when she was seven. In her innocence she had thought they had attachments and had been puzzled by it all. She hadn't told anyone though. It was as if, even then she felt implicated and guilty.

There was the guy who told her he had some books she might be interested in and when she got there had locked the door, slipped off his jeans 'to be more comfortable' and offered to help her out. Innocently, she had argued that he did not love her but was just using her. His answer to this was to slip out his appendage as evidence of his deep feelings. Again, she had spoken loudly and offered to scream, bringing his landlady to the door and affecting her release.

After that, she simply did not go to lectures where he might be. Over time, she became shrewder, more able to scout out the lay of the land. Like all women, occasionally she got it wrong. Like all women of the past, she considered such events 'normal' until MeToo made her re-examine the past.

Bringing up her daughter, she tried to alert her to dangers, telling her to never leave a drink in a crowded place and return to it, always make sure people know where you are, don't walk alone late at night and if you have to walk, do so with determination and purpose.

The usual stuff.

Even so, she doubted she had been able to totally protect her. She smiled as she remembered how her daughter had been impressed when a dirty phone-caller had boasted of his largeness and she had said 'Good, I have a very large scissors I want to try out.'

Having children made you more outspoken, she thought and more ready to stand your ground.

Looking at Metoo testimonies, she hoped for changing times. Women had such strength when they stood together.

She realised now that watching and applauding from the side-lines was not enough.

Hearing some older women speak smacked of nineteenth century attitudes of self-help; we suffered all this and got through it. They missed the point, she thought.

Like Peter Finch in Network, women were saying 'I'm mad as hell, I'm not going to take this anymore.'

The victorious always thought everyone could get through unbowed but actually there were many casualties who could not voice things in the same way.

Guilt needed to be shifted on its axis to where it truly belonged.

Change could only come when women made a stand, when they stood together and she had been sitting down too long herself.


Jude Brigley is Welsh and has been a teacher, a performance poet and an editor.

 

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