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What are lemurs ?


Scientific names

Common names

Lemurs are one of the most well known of the Malagasy wildlife species. They are also amongst the most primitive of living primates. The study of lemurs allows scientists to learn all about primates life-story traits, behaviors, and ecological evolution. Many species of lemurs have been found during the two last decades.
There are 113 species of lemurs in Madagascar. 63 per cent are threatened with extinction. 16 species of lemur species had disappeared during the past 2000 years. New species of lemurs are also being discovered. Recently, scientists have discovered the following list: thee Microcebus Sambiranensis, the Microcebus Barthae, the Microcebus Lehilahitsara, the Microcebus Tavaratra, the Microcebus Ravelobenis, the Cheriogaleus Minisculus, the Cheriogaleus Ravus, Mirza Zaza, and the Avahi Cleesei.

Lemurs are widely found in the rainforests and the dry forest of Madagascar but some species remain difficult to observe, like the Aye-Aye for example, which is found only in few distinct locations.

The largest of all lemurs is the Indri Indri
Head-body length: 64 to 72 cm
Tail: 5 cm
Weight: 6 kg to 9.5 kg
The smallest is the Microcebus:
Head-body size: between 12 and 16 cm
Total size including the tail: 24 to 30 cm
Weight: 40 to 90 g

The latest discovery

The Microcebus jonahi is a newly discovery mouse lemur by the Malagasy Professor Jonah RATSIMBAZAFY at the National Park of Mananara-Nord. This new species is adding to the list of 112 lemurs and make it 113.
The lemur of Madagascar is the only one with top highest primate conservation priority in the world. Its very high species diversity and its endemism at the species, genus and family level is merely unparalleled anywhere else, and this is all the more impressive given its relatively tiny surface compared to the other three landmasses where primates live. It is undeniable that Madagascar is so important for primates that it is considered one of the four biggest biogeographic regions for primates, together with South and Central America, mainland Africa, and Asia. At 581,540 km2, Madagascar’s total land area is only about 7% that of Brazil, the world’s richest country for primates, and yet its primate diversity is comparable and its endemism much higher.Above that, given that only 10% of Madagascar’s land area remains as proper primate habitat, the high concentration of unique species, genera, and families in a tiny area becomes even more extreme.

The lemurs’ natural history

The Mystical Journey of Madagascar’s Lemurs: A Tale of Isolation and Evolution

The Ancient World of Gondwana

Millions of years ago, the Earth witnessed a colossal geographical transformation. The supercontinent Gondwana, a massive landmass that included most of the Southern Hemisphere, began to fragment. This monumental event was not just a reshaping of the world’s map; it was the setting of a stage for one of nature’s most intriguing evolutionary tales.

Madagascar’s Secluded Eden

As Gondwana broke apart, a significant fragment drifted away, destined to become the island of Madagascar. This island, now the fourth largest in the world, sailed like a colossal ship on a lonely voyage through geological time. Madagascar’s isolation from mainland Africa, occurring approximately 88 million years ago, created a unique sanctuary for evolution to work its wonders.

The Arrival of the Ancestors

The story of lemurs begins with a mystery that perplexes scientists to this day. How did the ancestors of these unique primates find their way to the isolated shores of Madagascar? The prevailing theory suggests a perilous ocean journey, possibly on mats of vegetation, drifting across the Mozambique Channel. It was a journey of survival against overwhelming odds, a testament to the resilience and adaptive prowess of these early primates.

The Dawn of Lemurs

Upon reaching Madagascar, these ancestral primates found themselves in an untouched Eden. With no predators and a plethora of ecological niches to explore, they embarked on an evolutionary journey that would lead to the incredible diversity of lemurs we see today. From the tiny mouse lemur, weighing no more than 30 grams, to the indri, with its hauntingly beautiful song, each species is a living chapter of this evolutionary saga.

A Spectrum of Species

Madagascar’s isolation nurtured a hotbed of evolutionary experiments, leading to the emergence of 113 lemur species. Each species adapted to specific niches in the environment. The ring-tailed lemur, with its iconic tail, became a symbol of Madagascar’s unique wildlife. The nocturnal aye-aye, with its eerie appearance and elongated middle finger, adapted to a life of foraging in the darkness. This extraordinary diversity is a living library of evolutionary adaptations.

The ecological roles of lemurs

Lemurs play crucial roles in Madagascar’s ecosystems. As seed dispersers and pollinators, they are vital in maintaining the health of the forests. The indri, for example, helps in the propagation of many tree species through its diet and movement patterns. These ecological interactions highlight the interconnectedness of life in Madagascar’s unique habitats.

When Humans Arrived

The arrival of humans in Madagascar around 2000 years ago marked a turning point in the history of lemurs. The lush forests that had been the cradle of lemur evolution began to recede due to human activities like agriculture and logging. Many lemur species faced new threats, including habitat loss and hunting. The larger species, unable to adapt to these rapid changes, were the first to vanish, leaving only fossil traces of their existence.

The Plight of Lemurs

Today, lemurs are among the most endangered mammals in the world. Deforestation, illegal hunting, and the pet trade have pushed many species to the brink of extinction. Conservation efforts, both local and international, are intensifying to protect these unique primates. Reserves and national parks are established to safeguard their habitats, and breeding programs aim to bolster dwindling populations.

Hope for the Future

Despite the challenges, there is hope for Madagascar’s lemurs. Increased global awareness and conservation efforts are making a difference. Ecotourism, when conducted responsibly, has the potential to support both lemur conservation and local communities. Each visit by a nature enthusiast contributes to this effort, highlighting the importance of preserving these unique creatures for future generations.

Unraveling Mysteries, Embracing the Future

The story of Madagascar’s lemurs is not just a tale of the past; it is a continuing journey of discovery. Scientific research is constantly unveiling new insights into their behavior, genetics, and adaptation strategies. Each study adds a piece to the puzzle of their mysterious origins and evolutionary success.

The Power of Education and Awareness

Education plays a pivotal role in lemur conservation. By raising awareness of the lemurs’ plight and their ecological importance, we can foster a generation that values and protects these primates. Collaborative efforts between scientists, conservationists, and local communities are essential in crafting sustainable solutions.

The Enduring Allure of Lemurs

Lemurs, with their diverse forms and intriguing behaviors, continue to captivate the hearts of people around the world. They are not just animals; they are symbols of Madagascar’s rich natural heritage and a reminder of the delicate balance of life. Their story encourages us to appreciate the wonders of nature and the importance of preserving such irreplaceable treasures.

A Call to Action

As we conclude this expanded journey into the world of lemurs, we are reminded that their future lies in our hands. The conservation of lemurs is a testament to our commitment to protecting our planet’s biodiversity. Let us join together in this vital mission, ensuring that the mystical journey of Madagascar’s lemurs continues for generations to come.

Help us to preserve!!

Mirza coquereliCoquerel’s giant mouse lemur
Mirza zazaNorthern giant mouse lemur
Phaner pallescensPale fork-marked lemur
Phaner parientiSambirano fork-marked lemur
Phaner electromontisMontagne d’Ambre fork-marked lemur
Lepilemur betsileoBetsileo sportive lemur
Lepilemur microdonSmall-toothed sportive lemur
Lepilemur wrightaeWright’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur hollandorumHolland’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur scottorumScott’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur milanoiiDaraina sportive lemur
Lepilemur ankaranensisAnkarana sportive lemur
Lepilemur mittermeieriMittermeier’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur grewcockorumGrewcock’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur ottoOtto’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur edwardsiMilne-Edwards’ sportive lemur
Lepilemur ahmansonorumAhmanson’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur randrianasoloiRandrianasolo’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur hubbardorumHubbard’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur leucopusWhite-footed sportive lemur
Hapalemur griseus ssp. gilbertiGilbert’s grey bamboo lemur
Lemur cattaRing-tailed lemur
Eulemur albifronsWhite-fronted brown lemur
Eulemur sanfordiSanford’s brown lemur
Eulemur collarisCollared brown lemur
Eulemur coronatusCrowned lemur
Avahi mooreorumMoore’s woolly lemur
Avahi betsileoBetsileo woolly lemur
Avahi meridionalisSouthern woolly lemur
Avahi occidentalisWestern woolly lemur
Avahi cleeseiCleese’s woolly lemur
Avahi unicolorSambirano woolly lemur
Propithecus verreauxiVerreaux’s sifaka
Propithecus deckeniiDecken’s sifaka
Propithecus coronatusCrowned sifaka
Propithecus coquereliCoquerel’s sifaka
Propithecus edwardsiMilne-Edwards’ sifaka
Daubentonia madagascariensisAye aye
Microcebus myoxinusPygmy mouse lemur
Microcebus tavaratraTavaratra mouse lemur
Microcebus rufusRed mouse lemur
Microcebus lehilahytsaraGoodman’s mouse lemur
Allocebus trichotisHairy-eared mouse lemur
Phaner furciferMasoala fork-marked lemur
Lepilemur sealiSeal’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur dorsalisGrey-backed sportive lemur
Lepilemur aeeclisAEECL’s sportive lemur
Lepilemur ruficaudatusRed-tailed sportive lemur
Lepilemur petteriPetter’s sportive lemur
Hapalemur griseus 
Hapalemur griseus ssp. griseusGrey bamboo lemur
Hapalemur meridionalisSouthern bamboo lemur
Hapalemur occidentalisNorthern bamboo lemur
Eulemur rufusRufous brown lemur
Eulemur macacoBlack lemur
Eulemur rubriventerRed-bellied lemur
Avahi lanigerEastern woolly lemur
Avahi peyrierasiPeyrieras’ woolly lemur
Avahi ramanantsoavanaiRamanantsoavana’s woolly lemur
Lepilemur mustelinusWeasel sportive lemur
Eulemur fulvusCommon brown lemur
Eulemur rufifronsRed-fronted brown lemur
Microcebus murinusCommon mouse lemur
Microcebus griseorufusGrey-brown mouse lemur
Cheirogaleus mediusFat-tailed dwarf lemur
Cheirogaleus majorGreater dwarf lemur
Cheirogaleus crossleyiCrossley’s dwarf lemur
Cheirogaleus minusculusLesser iron-grey dwarf lemur
Microcebus jonahi

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