The tarsiers belong to the prosimian primate classification. The primary evidence for this classification was derived from the molecular genetics of retrotransposon insertions and deletions. The name tarsier was derived from their very long tarsus bone found in their long feet. Most tarsier species are nocturnal with large eyes that lack a light-reflecting area, a common feature for most other nocturnal animals. The tarsier give birth to a single offspring which grow to primarily feed on insects as adults.
The tarsier species was once broadly distributed across North America, Europe and Asia. At present the tarsiers are mostly located among the Southeast Asia islands, Phillipines, Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawesi.
The tarsier species Tarsius syrichta, will be sequenced as part of an initiative to expand sequencing of mammalian genomes. These additional mammalian genomes were chosen to maximize evolutionary clade information and, where possible, to take advantage of known biological models. The additional mammalian genome sequencing initiative calls for 2X whole genome coverage of plasmids plus a low coverage of fosmid end sequences for each selected mammal. For more information on the mammalian genomes represented in this initiative please visit the Genome Sequencing Proposal page. Funding for the sequence characterization of the tarsier genome is being provided by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health (NIH).