Lemurs or lemuriformes – suborder strepsirrhini uniting the diversity of species found on the island of Madagascar and the Comoros.
Today, scientists know of 100 (!) Species of lemurs (including extinct). However, more recently, in 1999, attributed to the lemurs only 31 species. The classification of these mysterious animals also changed: now the lemurs are not prosimians, as previously thought, with lorisoidea they entered the suborder strepsirrhini, the oldest primate on the planet.
Lemur family is incredibly diverse: there are tiny species, weighing less than 30 grams and large – up to 10 kg, some of them are exclusively nocturnal, others – day, among them there are absolute vegetarians and supporters of a mixed diet as varied and painting, fur length, head shape and so forth.
Common symptoms typical of all types of lemurs: a long claw on the second toe hind legs used for combing fluffy fur and elongated canines and incisors of the lower jaw.
The name “lemur” – “lemurs” comes from Greek mythology, where the lemurs (Greek Λεμούρια, Latin lemures) called the spirits of the night. Perhaps the association with spirits or ghosts is associated with a mysterious life of primates, mostly at night, and huge “alien” eyes.
The natural habitat of the lemurs – the island of Madagascar and the Comoros.
Once these animals were spread all over the island of Madagascar, now their habitat is limited dry deciduous forests in the south-west coast, spiny forests south-west and forests of the eastern coast.
The origin of lemurs on the island are still poorly understood. There are several hypotheses, including a pretty fantastic. In the 19th century it has been extended theory of the existence of the Indian Ocean of the ancient continent of Lemuria. According to the theory of the author, zoologist F. Sclater, Madagascar is part of the sunken continent. This idea is supported by the fact that the indigenous population of Madagascar, anthropologically much closer to the peoples of Indonesia than to the inhabitants of the African continent.
Modern scholars suggest the presence of a land bridge between the African continent and the modern island of Madagascar. According to them, a few million years ago, sea level rise, isolated piece of land, where he formed a unique island of Madagascar fauna.
Since people come to the island of Madagascar, about 1500 years ago, died of at least 8 genera and 16 species of lemurs. According to modern zoologists, all extinct species were diurnal, were slow and had impressive dimensions.
Probably the combination of these factors made them easy prey for local hunters, who valued delicious meat and skin loving animals. In addition, like other large mammals, it has inherent low speed reproduction and low population density of the island.
Many species of lemurs today are threatened with extinction. The reasons mainly lie in the destruction of the natural habitat of animals living: logging, mining and production of charcoal. According to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources), six species of lemurs are currently “endangered”, more than 17 listed in the International Red Book as “Vulnerable”. However, for many other species such statistics and does not exist in the absence of the necessary information.
Preserved today are divided into five types of families
– Daubentonia madagascariensis (the only kind of – Daubentonia madagascariensis or aye-aye)
– Sportive lemurs
Some representatives of the kingdom of Lemuria will be discussed in this article.
Daubentonia madagascariensis or aye-aye (Latin Daubentonia madagascariensis) – The only surviving species of the family Daubentonia.
Daubentonia madagascariensis – the largest representative strepsirrhini, nocturnal. Slim animal, weighing about 3 kilograms, reaches 36-44 cm long, bushy tail – up to 60 cm.
Head aye-aye – large, with a shortened facial region, the eyes – large golden brown. Ears Daubentonia madagascariensis hairless, huge, have tends to spoon shape.
Aye-aye was discovered scientist and researcher Pierre Sonnerom in 1780 on the west coast of Madagascar. The generic name, Daubentonia madagascariensis, was named after the French naturalist Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton.
Since the discovery of the animal classification has caused a lot of discussion and debate in the scientific community. The thing is that Daubentonia madagascariensis has a number of morphological features, such as original tooth structure and features of power.
Due to the very large incisors continue to grow over the entire life of the animal, Daubentonia madagascariensis long time attributed to rodents.
An interesting way of eating animals: Daubentonia madagascariensis first rattles tree trunk fingers in search of insect larvae, then gnaws a hole in the wood and using flexible middle fingers, remove the prey from cracks and hollows. It is known that in this way is fed even only one animal on earth – a striped possum.
Most of his life aye-aye spends high in the trees, occasionally falling to the ground. Daytime rukonozhki conducted in comfortable spherical nests, which are usually built in the forks of trees. At nightfall, they go hunting.
Daubentonia madagascariensis omnivorous, their diet usually consists of a variety of fruits, seeds, nuts and insect larvae. They are happy to regale mango and coconut, lychee, sugar cane and locusts.
For a long time it was thought that the aye-aye only a solitary animal. However, recent studies in this area prove the opposite: rukonozhki often communicate with relatives, look after each other and hunt in pairs.
Like other species of lemurs, during mating the female rukonozhek games dominate. The rate of reproduction aye-aye is quite low: female bears one calf every two to three years. Seven months baby is fed only breast milk. Turning to independent power, they continue to be under the care of a parent. Young males aye-aye keep up with the mother of the year, females – up to two years.
Daubentonia madagascariensis lifespan in captivity is about 26 years.
Ring-tailed lemur or lemur ringtailed or Katta (Latin Lemur catta) – Probably the most famous sight of the family lemuridae and a symbol of his native island.
Ringtailed lemur as well as all representatives lemuridae found only on the island of Madagascar, in the southern and south-western parts.
Katta – quite a large slim animal the size comparable with domestic cats. The body length of 38-45 cm, tail – from 55 to 62 cm animal reaches 3.5 kg, while the tail can weigh more than 1.5 kg.
The long striped tail lemurs plays an important role in communication between relatives by distributing signal odors, and is used by them as of the balance when climbing and jumping.
Unlike other lemuridae, Katta are most active during the day, 30% of the time they spend on the ground. A typical day begins with a little family of lemur sunbathing, especially in cool weather. Spreading legs apart, lemurs can enjoy the warmth of the sun to a few hours a day.
Katta are very social animals, they are usually kept in groups numbering from 15 to 20 individuals. Groups usually consist of an equal number of males and females and young animals. In communities lemurs strict hierarchy reigns, and the leader of the group is female. In general, adult females almost always take priority in a group, and access to food, and in mate choice. Interestingly, the females remain in their parent group for all, while the males have to change it a few times in a lifetime.
Family groups tend to occupy the territory from 6 to 30 acres. Males mark their ownership secret odorous glands located on the wrists of the front paws. For neighboring groups are aggressive, often, these clashes lead to serious injury or even death to the animal.
Katta diet consists mainly of fruits, but may vary considerably depending on the habitat and season. So, in the rainy season, which lasts from October to April, the fruit are the basis of food ringtailed lemurs. In the dry season lemurs feed on the leaves of trees, in particular, leaves tamarind tree, aloe, and even cacti, to satisfy the need for fluid. Occasionally Katta prey on small animals: spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, chameleons and birds.
Lemurs have relatively high birth rate. Each year brings one adult females, more than two puppies. At the age of six weeks young can already take solid food becomes fully independent in five months. However, due to the difficult climatic conditions of about 50% of calves die in their first year of life, in dry years – up to 80% and only 30% reaches maturity.
Life expectancy of Katta in the wild is not more than 16-20 years, in captivity Katta often live more than 30 years.
Natural enemies lemurs are predators such as the Fossa and Small Indian Civet, youngsters often falls prey to snakes and birds of prey.
According to IUCN lemurs number decreased by 20 -25% in the last 24 years.
Gray mouse lemur
Gray mouse lemur or grey mouse lemur or lesser mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) – one of the smallest primates and representatives at the same time, the largest representative of the kind of mouse lemurs. European name was due to the similarity with conventional mice.
Grey mouse lemur found only on the island of Madagascar. Weight of the animal is only 58 – 67 grams.
Many features of the gray mouse lemur shared with other species of mouse lemurs: a thick soft fur, long tail, long hind legs, a short snout, rounded skull, large bulging eyes and large ears membrane.
The first species was described in 1777 by the English illustrator John Frederick Miller. Until recently, it was considered the only way of mouse lemurs, as subtle forms of the external signs. Today, there are at least 17 different species of mouse lemurs. By crossing different species do not produce fertile offspring.
The body length of the gray mouse lemur is 12-14 cm, tail – 13 -14 cm. Average animal weight – 60 grams. Weight may vary depending on the season and the presence of fat reserves.
In the dry season the gray mouse lemurs hibernate. Interestingly, males fall into a stupor only a few days, while the women – for a few months. During hibernation the metabolism rate slows significantly, animal body temperature drops to ambient temperature, about 7 degrees C.
Fat reserves gray mouse lemurs lay behind. During the rainy season, when the lemur is actively gaining weight, the amount of tail may increase 4 times.
Grey mouse lemur – Night wood animal. Most of the time he spends at a height of three meters above the ground. During the day, slept in the nests, built of fallen leaves, twigs and moss. At night, very active, speed of movement and fussiness resembles normal mice. The long tail is used as a rocker, it allows you to make leaps of up to 3 meters in length.
Hunt gray mouse lemurs alone, sleep well in groups, especially females. The diet consists of fruits animals, insects and nectar.
Reproduction is seasonal. The litter usually two cubs is born. At the age of two months, young are completely independent, in the year reach maturity. In captivity, mouse lemurs live about 15 years.
Red ruffed lemur
Red ruffed lemur (Latin Varecia rubra.) – Member of the genus Varecia.
Red ruffed lemur found only on the northeast of the island of Madagascar, in the Masoala National Park.
Red ruffed lemur is one of the largest representatives of the kingdom of Lemuria. Its body length is 50 – 55 cm, tail – 60 cm from 3.5 to 4 kg. Females are always slightly larger than males.
The body is covered with boil thick red hair, the tips of the legs, a long tail, abdomen and head – black. The neck is white, some animals are white or pale yellow spots on the face and ankles.
Most of the time, these primates are carried high in the trees. Lifestyle preferably daily.
Red ruffed lemur, as well as Ring-tailed lemur, a social animal. Family groups comprise from 2 to 16 individuals, it may be a small family or large organized team. Red ruffed lemur – very clean animals, a lot of the time they spend caring for themselves or each other. Within the group vari communicate via loud cries to warn of the approach of predators or the invasion of aliens.
The basis of the power of Varecia up fruit, less foliage. A favorite delicacy – figs. In addition, with a long tongue red ruffed lemur produces nectar, thus contributing to the pollination of certain plants.
Red Ruffed Lemur reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 years, and begin to breed at the age of 3 years. The female builds a nest of twigs and leaves at a height of about 10-20 meters above the ground. In September and October the females give birth, usually two or three, at least five-six pups. Up to seven weeks young remain in the nest, while if the mother went in search of food, the father remains on guard.
At the age of 4 months young become independent.
According to the IUCN red ruffed lemur is now under threat of extinction. The destruction of natural habitats, the development of mining, hunting and illegal trade as pets – the main threat to the existence of the species. Besides red ruffed lemur has natural enemies: Foss, boas and eagles. Created in 1997, Masoala National Park has helped protect the species from the negative influence of man, but the animals living on the borders of the park are still at serious risk.
Indri or Babokoto (Latin Indri indri) – The largest lemur, belonging to the family indriidae. Like all lemurs, endemic to Madagascar, living in the north-eastern part.
The body length of the Indri is from 64 to 90 centimeters, the tail is almost absent, only 4 – 5 cm in length. Weight ranges from 6.5 to 9.5 kg. Hind legs are much longer than the front, thumbs large, separately delivered. indri body is covered with thick luxurious fur having a white-gray-black pattern. On the face wool practically no, ears – fluffy. Animals that live in the southern part of the area considerably lighter than their northern neighbors.
Most of the indri lives spend on trees, rarely descending to the ground. Are active in the daytime, they are very fond of sunbathing in the sun, settling in the forks of trees.
The social structure of the indri is different from other types of lemurs. They usually live in small groups of two to five individuals consisting of a monogamous pair and offspring. Females occupy a dominant position. The female acquires a new partner only in the case of the first death.
Indri – territorial animals, they usually speak clearly defined area of habitat in the 17 – 40 acres. The male marks territory secret odorous glands.
In search of food, a couple of daily investigates about 770 meters.
Indri peculiar so-called morning singing, through which a pair of reports about their rights to the territory. Songs performed by two partners, can be heard at a distance of 2 kilometers.
Base power Indri – tree leaves, only a small portion of their diet take fruits and flowers. Sometimes indri descend to the ground and eat a small amount of land. Most likely land acts as a sorbent, helping to neutralize the toxins contained in the leaves.
Only once in two or three years the female indri brings a baby, pregnancy lasts for five months. At the age of eight months, young become independent, but remain with their parents up to a year. Indri Females reach sexual maturity at 7 to 9 years old. Life expectancy of modern zoologists are not known.
In the Malagasy culture with Indra it involves a lot of superstitions. According to local residents, Indra worshiped the sun, and the souls of the dead continue to live in them.
Until recently, this belief is protected animals, hunting was banned indri. Today, the main threat to the existence of a destruction of their living space.
In addition, Indra is impossible to keep in captivity, this circumstance does not allow to implement in their breeding program.