Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Sunda Loris


Only seven types of mammals are known to be venomous, including slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.). Despite the evolutionary significance of this unique adaptation amongst Nycticebus, the structure and function of slow loris venom is only just beginning to be understood. Here we review what is known about the chemical structure of slow loris venom. Research on a handful of captive samples from three of eight slow loris species reveals that the protein within slow loris venom resembles the disulphide-bridged heterodimeric structure of Fel-d1, more commonly known as cat allergen. In a comparison of N. pygmaeus and N. coucang, 212 and 68 compounds were found, respectively. Venom is activated by combining the oil from the brachial arm gland with saliva, and can cause death in small mammals and anaphylactic shock and death in humans. We examine four hypotheses for the function of slow loris venom. The least evidence is found for the hypothesis that loris venom evolved to kill prey. Although the venom’s primary function in nature seems to be as a defense against parasites and conspecifics, it may also serve to thwart olfactory-orientated predators. Combined with numerous other serpentine features of slow lorises, including extra vertebra in the spine leading to snake-like movement, serpentine aggressive vocalisations, a long dark dorsal stripe and the venom itself, we propose that venom may have evolved to mimic cobras (Naja sp.). During the Miocene when both slow lorises and cobras migrated throughout Southeast Asia, the evolution of venom may have been an adaptive strategy against predators used by slow lorises as a form of Mullerian mimicry with spectacled cobras.

Concepts: Evolution, Mimicry, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Adaptation, Sunda Loris


Videos, memes and images of pet slow lorises have become increasingly popular on the Internet. Although some video sites allow viewers to tag material as ‘animal cruelty’, no site has yet acknowledged the presence of cruelty in slow loris videos. We examined 100 online videos to assess whether they violated the ‘five freedoms’ of animal welfare and whether presence or absence of these conditions contributed to the number of thumbs up and views received by the videos. We found that all 100 videos showed at least 1 condition known as negative for lorises, indicating absence of the necessary freedom; 4% showed only 1 condition, but in nearly one third (31.3%) all 5 chosen criteria were present, including human contact (57%), daylight (87%), signs of stress/ill health (53%), unnatural environment (91%) and isolation from conspecifics (77%). The public were more likely to like videos where a slow loris was kept in the light or displayed signs of stress. Recent work on primates has shown that imagery of primates in a human context can cause viewers to perceive them as less threatened. Prevalence of a positive public opinion of such videos is a real threat towards awareness of the conservation crisis faced by slow lorises.

Concepts: Primate, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Cruelty to animals, Sunda Loris, Bengal Slow Loris


More species of nocturnal primates are now recognized than in the past, because many are cryptic species. Subtle morphological disparities, such as pelage pattern and color variation, vocal cues, and genetics have aided in elucidating the number of diagnosable species in a genus. The slow lorises (genus Nycticebus) once included only two species, but recent taxonomic studies resulted in the description of three additional species; further incompletely explored variability characterizes each of the currently described species. The Bornean loris in particular is characterized by pelage and body size variation. In this study, we explored facemask variation in the Bornean loris (N. menagensis). Differing facemask patterns, particularly influenced by the amount of white on the face, significantly clustered together by geographic regions, separated by notable geographic boundaries. Our results support the recognition of four species of Bornean lorises: N. menagensis, N. bancanus, N. borneanus, and N. kayan. Genetic studies are required to support these findings and to refine further our understanding of the marked variability within the Bornean loris populations. Am. J. Primatol. 75:46-56, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Genetics, Primate, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Sunda Loris, Bengal Slow Loris


It has been suggested that strepsirrhines (lemurs, lorises, and galagos) retain the more primitive left-hand preference, whilst monkeys and apes more regularly display a right-hand preference at the individual-level. We looked to address questions of laterality in the slow loris (Nycticebus spp.) using spontaneous observations of 7 wild individuals, unimanual tests in 6 captive individuals, and photos of 42 individuals in a bilateral posture assessing handedness at the individual- and group-level. During the unimanual reach task, we found at the individual-level, only 4 slow lorises showed a hand use bias (R: 3, L: 1), Handedness index (HI) ranged from -0.57 to 1.00. In the wild unimanual grasp task, we found at the individual-level two individual showed a right-hand bias, the HI ranged from -0.19 to 0.70. The bilateral venom pose showed a trend toward a right-hand dominant grip in those photographed in captivity, but an ambiguous difference in wild individuals. There are many environmental constraints in captivity that wild animals do not face, thus data collected in wild settings are more representative of their natural state. The presence of right-handedness in these species suggests that there is a need to re-evaluate the evolution of handedness in primates.

Concepts: Primate, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Strepsirrhini, Handedness, Sunda Loris


Wildlife trade can present a major threat to primate populations. In Vietnam, slow lorises (genus Nycticebus) are subject to local, regional and international demand for diverse uses including as medicine, as meat and for pets. Ethnographic approaches explore the nuances of human-primate interactions in complex sociocultural contexts. We combined ethnographic interviews of key informants with information from questionnaires, focus groups and a movie broadcast on Vietnamese television to explore diverse knowledge and values related to slow lorises and their use in trade in Vietnam. We infer prices, uses and networks for expanding targeted regional and international markets as compared to the opportunistic local one. We highlight key findings related to gendered knowledge about slow lorises and more-than-human ontologies of slow lorises as active participants in human-slow loris interactions. We suggest that conservation efforts should pay attention to the clarification of vernacular names, and use names that highlight ecological or behavioural qualities of slow lorises, rather than other names that could be confused with medicinal remedies. Our results confirm the dynamic complexity of trade in Vietnam, highlighting the importance of ethnographic methods to explore diverse knowledge and values for place-based or site-appropriate conservation management of primates and other highly traded taxa.

Concepts: Primate, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Ethnography, Sunda Loris, Bengal Slow Loris


Conservation professionals recognize the need to evaluate education initiatives with a flexible approach that is culturally appropriate. Cultural-consensus theory (CCT) provides a framework for measuring the extent to which beliefs are communally held and has long been applied by social scientists. In a conservation-education context, we applied CCT and used free lists (i.e., a list of items on a topic stated in order of cultural importance) and domain analysis (analysis of how free lists go together within a cultural group) to evaluate a conservation education program in which we used a children’s picture book to increase knowledge about and empathy for a critically endangered mammal, the Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus). We extracted free lists of keywords generated by students (n = 580 in 18 schools) from essays they wrote before and after the education program. In 2 classroom sessions conducted approximately 18 weeks apart, we asked students to write an essay about their knowledge of the target species and then presented a book and several activities about slow loris ecology. Prior to the second session, we asked students to write a second essay. We generated free lists from both essays, quantified salience of terms used, and conducted minimal residuals factor analysis to determine presence of cultural domains surrounding slow lorises in each session. Students increased their use of words accurately associated with slow loris ecology and conservation from 43% in initial essays to 76% in final essays . Domain coherence increased from 22% to 47% across schools. Fifteen factors contributed to the domain slow loris. Between the first and second essays, factors that showed the greatest change were feeding ecology and slow loris as a forest protector, which increased 7-fold, and the humancentric factor, which decreased 5-fold. As demonstrated by knowledge retention and creation of unique stories and conservation opinions, children achieved all six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains. Free from the constraints of questionnaires and surveys, CCT methods provide a promising avenue to evaluate conservation education programs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Educational psychology, Lorisidae, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Writing, Sunda Loris


To describe the strategy employed by exudativorous primates during seasonal shifts in food abundance using the Javan slow loris as a model. Males and females may cope differently as well as exploit fallback foods in different proportions.

Concepts: Nutrition, Food, Lorisidae, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Sunda Loris, Venomous animals


Asian slow lorises are found in zoos and rescue centres worldwide with Nycticebus pygmaeus, the pygmy slow loris, boasting the largest population in captivity. Diet are reportedly high in fruit and concentrates and low in insects and exudates. Wild feeding studies place insects, nectar, and gums as the most important diet components. Captive populations also show high incidences of health afflictions, many of which may be caused by nutrition. Our study, aims at identifying a causative agent within the diets of N. pygmaeus in regards to diseases prominent within captive populations. We sent out 55 diet and health questionnaires to institutions worldwide. Returned diets were nutritionally analyzed. Nutrient values and proportions of each ingredient were used in a principle components analysis. Resulting factors were used as variables in a binary logistic regression (BLR), with dental disease as the dependent variable. 39 questionnaires were returned with a total of 47 diets. 20 (51.7%) institutions reported the presence of diseases with dental issues being prominent. Factors that were significant in the principle components analysis included gum, nectar, protein, acid detergent fibre, calcium, ash, phosphorus, potassium, Ca:P, magnesium, vitamin D, and energy. Gum was the only significant predictor in the BLR. Lastly, a chi square test for association was performed with the presence of dental disease as the dependent variable and the amount of fruit in the diet. The combination of high fruits and little to no gum promotes the occurrence of dental diseases. Current captive diets do not reflect the evolutionary adaptations of Nycticebus primates. Zoo Biol. XX:1-7, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Nutrition, Lorisidae, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Sunda Loris, Bengal Slow Loris


The venom produced by slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.) is toxic both intra- and inter-specifically. In this study we assessed the ecoparasite repellent properties of their venom. We tested venom from two Indonesian slow loris species: Nycticebus javanicus and N. coucang. Arthropods directly exposed to brachial gland secretions mixed with saliva from both species were immediately impaired or exhibited reduced activity (76%), and often died as a result (61%). We found no significant difference in the result of 60-min trials between N. coucang and N. javanicus [X(2)(1, n=140)=2.110, p=0.3482]. We found evidence that the degree of lethality of the venom varies according to the arthropod taxa to which it is exposed. While most maggots (84%) were initially impaired from the venom after 10 min, maggots died after a 1 h trial 42% of the time. In contrast, at the end of 1 h trial, spiders died 78% of the time. For all arthropods, the average time to death from exposure was less than 25 min (M=24.40, SD=22.60). Ectoparasites including ticks, members of the arachnid order, are known to transmit pathogens to hosts and may be an intended target of the toxic secretions. Our results suggest that one function of slow loris venom is to repel parasites that affect their fitness, and that their topical anointing behaviour may be an adaptive response to ectoparasites.

Concepts: Arthropod, Loris, Lorises and galagos, Slow loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Arachnid, Spider, Sunda Loris


Conventional biodiversity surveys play an important role in ensuring good conservation friendly management in tropical forest regions but are demanding in terms of expertise, time, and budget. Can local people help? Here, we illustrate how local knowledge can support low cost conservation surveys. We worked in the Malinau watershed, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, an area currently at risk of extensive forest loss. We selected eight species of regional conservation interest: rafflesia (Rafflesia spp.), black orchid (Coelogyne pandurata), sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), tarsier (Tarsius bancanus), slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi/N. nebulosa), and orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus). We asked 52 informants in seven villages if, where and when they had observed these species. We used maps, based on both geo-referenced and sketched features, to record these observations. Verification concerns and related issues are discussed. Evaluations suggest our local information is reliable. Our study took 6 weeks and cost about USD 5000. Extensive expert based field surveys across the same region would cost one or two orders of magnitude more. The records extend the known distribution for sun bear, tarsier, slow loris, and clouded leopard. Reports of rafflesia, proboscis monkey, and orang-utan are of immediate conservation significance. While quality concerns should never be abandoned, we conclude that local people can help expand our knowledge of large areas in an effective, reliable, and low cost manner and thus contribute to improved management.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Primate, Slow loris, Bear, Mammals of Asia, Sunda Loris, Mammals of Indonesia, Fauna of Malaysia