Physical characteristics

Body shape varies from slender (angwantibos and slender lorises) to stocky (pottos and slow lorises), but in all species the tail is markedly reduced to virtually absent (more so in the Asiatic species than in the African species). The head is short and broad at the back; the snout is also short. The eyes are quite large and oriented obliquely upwards rather than directly forwards. The ears are medium-sized and covered with hair. The arms and legs are approximately equal in length. As in sloths, the circulatory system of the limbs is organized into a network of fine blood vessels (rete mirabile) to permit prolonged contraction of the muscles without exhaustion. In the hands and feet, the first digits

A potto (Perodicticus potto) in the daytime, resting in a tree hole in Ituri Rainforest Reserve near Epulu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Photo by Bruce Davidson/ Reproduced by permission.)

(thumb and the big toe) are strongly divergent, permitting powerful grasping, while the second finger and toe are very short to vestigial, enhancing the pincer action. All digits (fingers and toes) bear nails, although the nail on the second toe is elongated and angled obliquely upwards to form a "grooming claw."

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