Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Lemurs of Madagascar

Lemurs are arboreal primates with a pointed snout and typically a long tail, found only in Madagascar.  The word lemur is derived from the lemures, which means ghosts or spirits, from Roman mythology. This word was first used describing the slender loris which had nocturnal habits and a slow pace. The word lemur now only refers to the primates living on Madagascar. Lemurs are also known to sing like a whale and move as a doing ballet.

The approximate life span for a female in the wild is about sixteen years, although the oldest known wild female was between 18 and 20 years. Less is known about the male life span, but some of been recorded to living to at least 15 years of age.


For Lemurs, Larger Groups Mean a Higher Social IQ






Raising Baby Lemurs To Save A Species


The Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina has the largest collection of lemurs in the world outside of Madagascar. View this video to see some of the tiniest lemurs just a few days old.





The majority of lemurs are diurnal, although the smaller mouse and dwarf lemurs are nocturnal. They are insectivorous primates, composed of a small body, long nose, and very large eyes. Today on Madagascar, there are nearly 60 taxa of lemurs ranging greatly in size from some of the smallest primates to some of the largest primates in the world. Currently the size range is from about 1.1 ounce for Madame's Berthe's mouse lemur to 15 to 20 pounds for the indri and the diademed sifaka which is 41 inches long. The Archaeoindris fontoynonti was known as a sloth lemur and was comparable in size to a male gorilla but became extinct around 350 BC.


Pygmy Mouse Lemur


The pygmy mouse lemur is the second smallest of the mouse lemurs and is reddish brown and creamy white. Due to its small size, it was difficult to locate for over a century and was rediscovered in 1993.




Indri Lemur


The indri is considered to be the largest of the surviving lemur species. The indri is monogamous and only seeks a new partner after the death of a mate. They are known for their distinctive songs lasting from 45 seconds to more than three minutes.






Lemurs do not have prehensile tails as many other primates do and cannot hang by their tails from trees. Their tales are used as an aid in balancing. Their sense of smell is keen and they also have good vision, even at night. The lemur's thumbs and big toes are opposable while also having an extended claw, or toilet claw, on the second toe of their hind feet which they use for grooming.






Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur


These ruffed lemurs are black with white on their limbs, head, and back. The neck has a white mane and their muzzle resembles that of a dog. Both the males and females look the same. Their call is the second loudest in the primate world, second only to the howler monkey. Black-and-white lemurs can grow up to two feet long and weigh about seven to ten pounds. Their lifespan in captivity is about 18 years, but many of them have lived to be twenty years old.




Just A Lemur Eating Watermelon


Lemur's diets can be highly variable. Fruit makes up the largest part of a lemur's diet, but they also eat leaves, flowers, tree bark, seeds, sap, and insects. The general trends suggest that the smaller species tend to consume primarily fruit and insects, while the larger species consume mostly plant materials. As is common with most primates, a hungry lemur might eat anything edible even though it is not one of their preferred foods.