This Is The Smallest Primate In The World

You can find primates everywhere. With the number growing every year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature currently recognizes more than 600 kinds of primates, including lemurs, monkeys, and apes — a category that also includes humans. Yes, we're cousins with these animals and have a 60-million-year-old common ancestor. In fact, human DNA is about 96% identical to some of those primate relatives and almost 99% the same as chimpanzees and bonobos, reported the American Museum of Natural History.

Most nonhuman primates live in Central and South America, Africa, and southern Asia, but you can also find them in northern Japan. You'll find similarities among primates no matter what species it belongs to, like five fingers with fingernails, according to Science Daily

Primates come in all sizes. One of the largest is the eastern gorilla (pictured above), which can be as tall as 6.2 feet and weigh 450 pounds, per Gorillas World. This endangered species lives in the Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. There are just over 2,500 eastern gorillas left, said IUCN. The eastern gorilla would tower over one of the smallest primates, which weighs just 1 to 4 ounces and is under 5 inches tall.

A tiny, shy primate

One of the smallest primates is the mouse lemur. These creatures have wide eyes and bat-like ears. In Latin, "lemures" means ghost and the name gives a nod to the animal's night hours, when they are most active. In the darkness, their eyes look eerie — perfect for setting a scary scene.

Like all lemurs, they live on Madagascar. Yes, that's right, all 20 or so species make this island off Africa's coast their home. That includes the winner of the smallest primate contest: the pygmy mouse lemur. These tiny animals — whose head and body measures less than 2.5 inches and an oversized tail twice that length — stay in the western part of Madagascar and never stray far from the dry forests (from National Geographic). 

The 1-ounce lemur was actually marked as extinct until 1993 when it was seen in the Kirindy forest. Little is known about the species, since it's shy and rare. But it seems like they enjoy resting — they spend much of the daytime in their tree holes or nests. The tiny lemur eats fruit, flowers, and insects (as per Earth's Endangered Creatures). 

While it almost seems like a pygmy mouse lemur might make a good pet — cute, sleeps a lot, easy-to-find food — The Guardian points out you might want to stick with pygmy pigs or goats instead as the primate was lost for more than a century. How long will it take you to find it in your disorganized home?