The island of Madagascar, famous for its remarkable diversity and unique species, has been separated from land for millions of years. As a result many of the strange, weird and wonderful fauna and flora living there are only found on the island. Over the last few decades numerous new lemur species have cropped up, discovered by scientists and researchers. And now there’s another one, a dwarf lemur, to add to an already impressive list.
Dwarf Lemurs are still relatively mysterious creatures
The dwarf lemur genus is still relatively obscure, less well known than regular lemurs, but researchers from the universities of Mainz and Antananarivo have been taking a closer look at these charming beasts, ultimately discovering a previously unknown species of dwarf lemur.
Dr. Andreas Hapke of the Institute of Anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has been working closely with local scientists, looking at the diversity of lemurs, for several years. Their new discovery, named the Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur, only lives in three isolated slices of forest in the island’s south, and the discovery is so new that the population size is still a mystery. But the team suspects there may be as few as 50 animals left. Which makes them seriously endangered.
Genetic analysis reveals a brand new dwarf lemur species
One reason it has taken so long to get to grips with the extent and variety of dwarf lemur species is the fact that they live right at the top of the forest canopy, are nocturnal and tend to hibernate for several months over the winter, coming back to life for the rainy season when the forests they inhabit are more or less impossible for humans to access. Despite considerable practical and technical challenges, the team managed to capture 51 of the tiny beasts in total, spread over 9 locations, taking a small tissue sample from each animal before letting them go again. Genetic analysis revealed the new species, something that wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago.