There are approximately 20 different species of Bush Baby in Africa, which are also called Galagos and resemble some of our earliest primate ancestors. The Rhondo Dwarf Bush baby is native to the coastal region of Tanzania living in the evergreen forests in the Tanzanian highlands. Due to deforestation and human encroachment, this species is at extinctions door step. Only two small populations of these animals exist today, separated by over 250 miles (400 km) and are listed as critically endangered.
Bush Baby History
Bush babies are primates and from the suborder Strepsirrhini. These are the early primates of lemurs, pottos and bush babies (galagos). All other primates (great apes, lesser apes, monkeys) are from the suborder Haplorhini. The Rhondo Dwarf Bush Baby is from the family Galigadae. This includes all other bush babies, making up 6-7 genera and over 20 species. However, there is still some scientific debate on the exact total number of genera and species. The Rhondo Dwarf Bush Baby scientific name is Paragalago rondoensis.
The evolution of primates fascinates all of us as it tells our own story. The earliest primates most likely resembled something similar to bush babies and emerged anywhere from 65 to 55 million years ago. The first true primates began to emerge around 40 million years ago. The oldest known bush baby fossil found places them first emerging around 38 million years ago in Africa.
Briefly, humans (Homo sapiens) are now being placed as first emerging anywhere from 550,000 to 750,000 years ago in Africa. Our earliest upright walking primate ancestor is thought to have emerged about 7 million years ago in Africa.
Bush Baby Facts
The Rhondo Bush Baby is the smallest of the family. Their body’s are an estimated 4 to 5 inches (12-15 cm) long and only weigh up to 100 grams. Bush babies are arboreal and live most of their lives in trees. They have a rather short lifespan of only 3 to 4 years in the wild, with up to 10 years under human care. Like most arboreal species they incredible hand-eye coordination and leaping ability. Some bush babies have been recorded to be able to jump an incredible 7.5 feet (2.25 m). They are estimated to be able to jump 6 to 8x better than frogs. Other facts include:
- Primarily insectivores. Will eat some plants and fruits.
- Unlike most primates, do not rely on vision as much. Their extremely large eyes are fixed in their sockets.
- Can turn heads almost 250 degrees, similar to owls.
- Their hearing is more acute than humans due to their large ears. They also have the ability to rotate their ears unlike other primate species.
- They have a toothcomb in their mouths. Their front incisors are used to groom their fur.
- Preyed upon by most larger predators but their quick and agile movements in the trees make them difficult to catch.
- Fingernails are similar to humans. Have a grooming claw on hind feet.
Bush Baby Conservation
The Rhondo Bush Baby is listed as critically endangered. While no numbers are available, these animals are severely fragmented in 8 separate pockets in the Tanzanian highlands.