Lemurs of Madagascar have specialized fingers for picking their noses

Nose-picking and snot-eating may be frowned upon among humans, but it turns out that certain species of primates have specialized fingers to do just that. Scientists have discovered.

Researchers have documented for the first time the long-fingered lemur aye-aye inserting its very long fingers into its nostrils and licking them cleanly.

So far, 12 other primates, including humans, have been documented picking their noses and eating their mucus.

The scientists said their findings, published in the Journal of Zoology, may shed light on the evolutionary and functional role of nose-picking in all these species.

Anne-Claire Fabre, lead author, natural history museum of London“There is little evidence as to why we or other animals pick our noses.

“Almost every paper you can find is written as a joke.

“Among serious studies, there is some in the field of psychology, but almost nothing in biology.

“One study shows that picking your nose can spread bacteria such as staphylococcus, while another study shows that people who eat their own runny nose have less cavities. ”

Aye aye belongs to the category of species known as strepsilin primates and is native to Madagascar.

Also known as the world’s largest nocturnal primate, lemurs have rodent-like teeth and unusual long, thin middle fingers.

The aye-aye’s fingers make up about 65% of its hand length, and it uses them to tap the wood, extracting small larvae and finding food in the wood.

But researchers also observed something else about the aye-aye. Lemurs use their longest fingers to pick their noses.

Fabre said:

“This was not a one-off action, but a full engagement, inserting a very long finger amazingly under its nose, licking it clean and sampling what it dug up!”

To better understand this behavior, the research team used an imaging technique called a CT scan. It is commonly used by medical professionals to obtain internal images of the body. I examined the inside of the skull and hand of an aye-aye specimen in a museum.

Their aim was to reconstruct the position of the middle finger in the nasal cavity.

The findings suggested that the fingers were likely to descend all the way to the throat.

Previous scientific studies have suggested that eating snot may have health benefits, but researchers believe that in this case, animals are ingesting their own mucus. I think it is possible.

Roberto Portela Miguez, Senior Curator, Mammals at the museumand a co-author of the new paper said:

“I hope that future research will build on this research and help us understand why we and our closest relatives pick their noses!”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/lemur-pick-nose-aye-madagascar-b2211585.html Lemurs of Madagascar have specialized fingers for picking their noses

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