Lemurs are, as I said in my explanation of this week, non-simian primates. They are not technically more ancient than monkeys, but darn if they don't look the part. There are many genera of lemurs; I am not going to detail all of them right now.
Their name comes from the word for a certain type of shadowy, Roman ghost exorcised during the Lemuria. (The same name was used for a group of criminals in Baccano!.) This practice was later moved from May 13th to October 31st, the day of our modern Halloween. Every culture needs a day for the dead.
The real lemurs have cries that sound like hysterical human laughter; many are nocturnal, and have glow in the dark eyes; they have human-like hands, but everything else about them is more raccoon than monkey. This, my friends, is the uncanny valley of primates incarnate.
Some of them are also just downright terrifying.
Whoops, wrong picture.
There we go. This is the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), a fuzzball that is not even cute as a baby.
This would probably have been better for a Monday. I mean, really, this lemur looks like it had too much coffee. It's suffering from that horrible feeling towards the end of the work day when you've had too much coffee and want another cup, but the other five or so you've had today have already chewed up your metabolism and spit it out. I don't even work at an office and I am aware that this feeling is nastiest on Mondays.
The aye-aye looks a lot like Ke$ha in lemur form. It has wiry hair, a tail that looks like a toilet brush, wide eyes, big ears, and long fingers a la something from your worst nightmares. Maybe a Gremlins movie would do it justice.
Do not feed after midnight. Did we mention it's nocturnal?
Some have suggested that its name comes from either the aye-aye's cry (which it...doesn't have), human screams or a pseudonym. The natives might have been so scared of it that they thought up 'heh-heh' instead of saying its name. It's like Voldemort all over again!
Unlike most lemurs, which already look like raccoons or some other furry animal, the aye-aye has teeth like a rat. These teeth grow constantly just like a rodent's, leading early scientists to classify the aye-aye alongside rats, mice, and beavers. It would not surprise me if the aye-aye brushed said teeth with whiskey.
It also has a weird finger on each forepaw designed for picking grubs out of trees. It also flips a very mean bird. If this animal points at you with this middle finger, it is supposedly a death omen.
This lemur, like the chameleon, is viewed as universally evil by the non-scientists on Madagascar. Everyone on the island an overwhelming urge to get as far away from the aye-aye as humanly possible. Or just kill it. Or, in the most drastic cases, burn the whole village at the sight of it and move away.
Again, just like Ke$ha.
Happy premature Monday.
(...I kid because I love.)