Tarsiers are the smallest primates in the world. One of the smallest members of this tiny group is the Philippine tarsier, Tarsius syrichta. They are no bigger than a human fist with males weighing in at a whopping 5.5 ounces. This tiny tarsier is found in the southern most regions of the Philippine Islands and has been placed on the rare and endangered species list.
Nathaniel Dominy, an associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth has been studying the Philippine tarsier and its voice. He discovered that they use an ultrasonic communication similar to that used by bats and dolphins for echolocation.
Most tarsiers are considered to be quite vocal with a wide range of calls that are easily detected by us humans. It’s been well documented that they communicate with each other both for social interaction and to announce alarms such as the presence of a rival group of tarsiers.
However, the Philippine tarsier is virtually silent when compared to the others. This led Dominy and his colleagues to suspect that they had a different form of communication.
To conduct their study, they set up advanced microphones and recording unit on the island of Mindanao. There were six wild tarsiers in the study area that were the targets of a study to determine their range of hearing. They were surprised to find that the tarsiers could detect sounds up to 91kHz (kilohertz). Human hearing ranges from about 20 Hz (low bass) to 20 kKz. Beyond the 20kHz range is considered to be ultrasound.
Next they set up microphones on the islands of Bohol and Leyte to record the sounds of wild tarsiers. They were able to record the vocalizations of eight tarsiers that measured around the 70kHz range. These calls were generally recorded when the researchers approached, leading them to believe that they were alarm calls.
A number of animals can hear sounds in the ultrasound range, however very few of them can both hear and produce ultrasounds in the 70kHz to 90kHz range of the Philippine tarsier. Dogs can detect sound up to about 22kHz. Bats operate in the 100kHz to about 180kHz and some porpoises operate at up to 160kHz. This places the Philippine tarsier in a very special group of animals, but also poses a question on their supposed evolution.
In Dominy’s report, he gets into the evolution of the tarsiers saying that they are an ancient primate that gave rise to monkeys and apes approximately 60 million years ago. Then he goes on to say that the tarsiers have remained virtually unchanged for the past 45 million years.
This prompts me to ask a couple of questions.
First question I would like to ask is how did the tarsiers suddenly stop evolving 45 million years ago and remain unchanged while everything else continued to evolve around them? What causes one species to stop evolving at a time when so many others are supposed to be evolving at breakneck speeds?
Secondly, how did this one species of tarsier develop both an auditory and vocalization system so differently than all other tarsiers? In the world of acoustics, there is a huge difference between the audible range of most tarsiers and that of the Philippine tarsier. Did the Philippine tarsier evolve from the other tarsiers and somehow miraculously evolve ultrasonic ears as well as ultrasonic vocal capabilities?
These tiny primates are quite unique in the world of animal sounds and I see that this uniqueness presents a problem for the evolutionary theory in more ways than one. Rather I see the tiny Philippine tarsier as sounding off in a super way, declaring the infinite creative abilities of our Master Designer.
Tiny Primate Is Ultrasonic Communicator, Science Daily, Feb. 8, 2012.
Today, the ID (intelligent design) movement is capturing headlines (and igniting controversy) around the world. But in the process, many are coming to think that a credible challenge to the dominant Darwinian naturalism of our time means backing away from a clear stand for the truth of the Bible.
Now creationist heavyweight Jonathan Sarfati, whose Refuting Evolution has the most copies in print of any creation book ever, challenges this mindset head on. In the process, By Design is set to become a classic of the creation movementin the same vein as Dr Sarfatis comprehensive Refuting Compromise, which is arguably the most powerful biblical and scientific defense of straightforward Genesis in existence.