October the 27th is World Lemur Day. A day to celebrate the most endangered clade of mammals on the planet.
Did you know:
- Lemurs are found exclusively on the island of Madagascar (and some tiny offshore islands)
- There are over 100 different species of lemur, ranging in size from the dwarf mouse lemur (30 g) to the indri (up to 9.5 kg).
- Of those species, a shocking 90% are endangered, many critically.
- Lemurs are prosimians, which translates as “before monkey” and are descended from a common ancestor. It is believed this ancestor was carried over to Madagascar on debris, and evolved to fill a variety of different niches.
- The aye-aye, possibly one of the strangest mammals in the world, was described as having “… the ears of a bat, the tail of a fox, the teeth of a beaver, the fur of a microwaved cat and the hands of a witch…” (from John Cleese’s “In the Wild”). Its middle finger is not actually elongated, but very, very thin, allowing it to probe into crevices to extract delicious bugs and grubs.
- Most lemur species are vegetarian, with the eastern sifaka species requiring such a diverse array of foliage that they rarely survive (and have not yet flourished) in captivity.
- The west coast of Madagascar is much drier, and the lemur species found there tend to somewhat more adaptable with their diet.
- John Cleese loves lemurs – and has a species of avahi (woolly lemur) named after him: Avahi cleesei
- The lemur “poster boy”, the ring-tailed lemur, is one of the more generalised species. It thrives in zoos, and spends more time on the ground than other species. However, wild populations have suffered a massive decline in recent years.
- The black lemurs have been filmed biting millipedes, which causes them to secrete a chemical that not only acts as a natural insecticide, but is also a narcotic.
- Sclater’s black lemur is the only non-human primate with blue eyes.
- The bamboo lemur regularly consumes high qualities of cyanide.
Here are some pictures of lemurs that I have drawn over the years: