One of Owen's very best

Owen, R.

On the Aye-aye ( Chiromys, Cuvier; Chiromys madagascariensis, Desm.; Sciurus madagascariensis, Gmel. Sonnerat; Lemur psilodactylus, Schreber, Shaw).

Published 1863
Item ID 76129

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London, Taylor and Francis, 1863. Large 4to (32.5 x 25.1 cm). 72 pp.; 14 lithographed plates including two very large, double folded. Original printed wrappers.

The aye-aye ( Daubentonia madagascariensis) is the world's largest nocturnal primate. It occurs in Madagascar and is known for its very peculiar, long, thin middle finger, which it uses to grab insects from holes. As Owen stated, the name aye-aye is based on a cry of astonishment by west coast Madagascans, who had never seen the animal before until the French explorer Sonnerat showed it to them about the year 1780. Owen continued with an overview of the aye-aye in natural history literature, its disputed taxonomy and a very detailed description of the animal - firmly establishing that it is a lemur. The fine plates are by the great German-British mammal and bird painter Joseph Wolf (1820-1899), who "established wildlife art as a genre" (Wikipedia). Small annotation on front wrapper regarding the pagination. Some light, scattered foxing, a bit more in the fore margin of the last two plates; last plate and rear wrapper with a short, marginal, closed tear. Spine professionally repaired, otherwise a very good, clean copy. Nissen ZBI, 3040; Schulze-Hagen and Geus, Joseph Wolf (1820-1899) Tiermaler - Animal Painter, pp. 299-303; Wood, p. 509.

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