National Geographic : 2012 May
AYE AYE The aye-aye's long fingers allow it to get food that's beyond the reach of other animals in Madagascan forests. One of this lemur's favorite meals is insect larvae hidden inside trees. It taps one specially designed finger on the bark, listening and feeling for vibrations, and even uses smell to detect the presence of larvae. Then it gnaws a hole. A ball joint at the base of the digit allows the aye-aye to push it through the hole at any angle; a claw hooks the larvae to pull them out. ASIAN ELEPHANT The elephant hand has adapted to withstand tremendous weight. The stout digit bones---recent research shows a sixth "faux" digit that begins as cartilage but grows into bone in some older elephants---function like the base of a pillar. A pad of fatty, fibrous tissue absorbs the shock of each step. Tendons and ligaments store some of the energy as the hand hits the ground and release it as the hand rises. There is literally a spring in the elephant's step.