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Distinguished Author

Bocage-JV-Barbosa-du-1823-1.jpg

José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage
  (1823–1907).

A Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was the curator of Zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Lisbon. His work at the Museum consisted in acquiring, describing and coordinating collections, many of which arrived from the Portuguese colonies in Africa, such as Angola, Mozambique, etc. He published more than 200 taxonomic papers on mammals, birds, and fishes. In the 1880s he became the Minister of the Navy and later the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Portugal. The zoology collection at the Lisbon Museum is called the Bocage Museum in his honor. He was responsible for identifying many new species, which he named according to the naturalist who found them.

Species of the month

Aye-aye

Daubentonia madagascariensis

Daubentonia madagascariensis

Some facts on this mammal:

Size: Head and body about 40 cm.; tail about 60 cm.

Weight: 2 kg.

Distribution: Found only on the island of Madagascar.

Diet: Omnivore: eats animal matter, nuts, insect larvae, fruit, nectar, seeds, and fungi.

Average life span: 20 years in captivity.

Protection status: Near Threatened (IUCN 3.1).

First described: By the German naturalist, botanist and entomologist Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1788.


Daubentonia madagascariensis may look to you like a rodent, but it actually is a primate, related to monkeys, apes, and humans. Equipped with a bushy tail that is larger than the body, big eyes, slender fingers, and large, sensitive ears, the aye-aye is an impressive animal. It has pointed claws on all the fingers and toes except for the opposable big toes, which enable it to dangle from branches. Daubentonia madagascariensis is a nocturnal species which dwells in rain forest trees and avoids coming down to earth. During the day it curls up in a ball-like nest of leaves and branches. While perched aloft, the aye-aye uses its extra-long middle finger to tap on trees listening for wood-boring insects' larvae crawling underneath the bark. With the same middle finger it then fishes them out. This digit is also useful for scooping the flesh out of fruits such as coconuts. Many Madagascan natives consider the aye-ayes an omen of ill luck which must be killed when sighted. Being now critically endangered animals, they are protected by law.

See also: Species of previous months

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