Possible New Lemur Discovered
A lemur species was discovered in Madagascar which scientists believe is probably new to science. It is a member of the genus of fork-marked lemurs, named because of the distinctive markings on their heads. This one was found in the dry forests of Madagascar, a country known for having rare and endangered lemurs. Primate expert Russell Mittermeier who found the new lemur said, “I went to this area for the first time to see the spectacular Tattersallís sifaka [Propithecus tattersali], a large diurnal species that itself had just been described in 1988. I was surprised to see a fork-marked lemur there, since this animal had not yet been recorded from the region. I immediately knew that it was likely a new species to science, but didnít have the time to follow up until now.”† (Source: Discovery) Mittermeier has worked with Conservation International for years to protect wild animals and their natural habitats.
The new lemur has large hands and feet, and a long tongue for eating gum excreted from trees, and flowing nectar. Inside its mouth there is an unusual feathery structure believe to help with capturing nectar. Genetic analysis of the animal has not yet been conducted, so it is undetermined at this time if the lemur is a new species, but Mittermeier believes it is.
Madagascar has scores of lemur species — so many there are websites devoted to them.† There are at least 99 species and subspecies of lemurs found only in that island country. Many of them are endangered or threatened. Their habitats are vulnerable due to illegal logging, and conversion to agriculture. Also some are hunted for food or for sale in markets or restaurants in a bush meat trade which was increased by the military coup there last year. “More than anything else these poachers are killing the goose that laid the golden egg, wiping out the very animals that people most want to see, and undercutting the country and especially local communities by robbing them of future ecotourism revenue,” said Mittermeier. (Source: BBC)
Image Credits: Russell Mittermeier, Conservation International