The island of Madagascar attracts researchers with a unique biodiversity: it is the birthplace of many endemic animals. Among them – a detachment of lemurous, which has more than a hundred species.
Not so long ago, biologists studying lemurs sounded the alarm: the extinction of some species in Madagascar affected the ecosystem and made some plant species “orphaned.” But there is good news: an international team of researchers has discovered a new kind of lemurs, called Cheirogaleus grovesi. He joined the family of dwarf lemurs.
Species name, by the way, immortalizes the name of the famous primatologist and anthropologist Colin Groves: biologists dedicated to him the discovery “in recognition of more than 40 years of work in the field of primatology, evolutionary biology, morphological analysis and related disciplines.”
Colin Groves, who died in November 2017, classified more than 50 species of animals, including several species of dwarf lemurs.
According to the researchers, the representatives of the new species are rather miniature: body length is about 15-17 centimeters on average, but the lush tail is all 28 centimeters. Color of these individuals is brownish-black.
Like most lemurs, C. grovesi have huge round eyes, small “plush” ears and tenacious paws, allowing to deftly climb trees and collect fruit and nectar.
A new species of dwarf lemurs inhabits the southeastern part of Madagascar. It is curious that its representatives were seen immediately in two national parks with different natural conditions. One of them is a tropical forest, and in another lowland alternate with high-mountain forests, reports National Geographic.
The authors explain that many related species of lemurs have a very similar appearance, therefore it is possible to identify differences only at the genetic level. In the case of the last find, it was as follows: the animals caught in the traps were studied by external parameters (weight, head size, etc.), and also took blood samples from them for DNA tests. Then the lemurs were released back into the forest.
Comparing mitochondrial sequences with samples of previously described species (which took almost a year), experts concluded that they had a new, previously unknown species.
And, according to them, this is not the last discovery of this kind of new technologies will certainly allow to allocate even more different types.
In addition to a more detailed description of the new species, biologists also have to figure out the approximate size of the population in connection with the latest trends in the extinction of lemurs due to poaching and deforestation. It is not excluded that C. grovesi will immediately receive the status of protected animals. However, if most of Groves lemurs live in national parks, then there is nothing to worry about, the authors add.
Their article with a more detailed description of the new species is published in the publication Primate Conservation.