Lemurs are a unique group of primates native to Madagascar, an island off the coast of East Africa. Although they are related to monkeys and apes, lemurs make up a separate branch of the primate family tree and are classified as a superfamily, made up of five individual lemur families and more than 100 different species.
We have made a selection of the 5 most interesting facts about lemurs.
Lemurs have a matriarchal society, that is, one in which the female is in charge of her social group. This behavior is rare in mammals (where the male is usually in charge), but it is also found in elephants. In lemurs, females display aggression toward males, stealing their food and chasing them away from where they sleep.
Some lemurs have blue eyes
Like humans, some lemurs also have blue eyes. This is a first, as in primates normally this physical characteristic does not occur. Having them are the blue-eyed lemurs (Eulemur flavifrons Gray), also called Sclater’s lemurs.
Lemurs sing a cappella!
Yes, singing lemurs (Indri indri) communicate by singing. These lemurs are found in the rainforests of Madagascar, such as in the Maromizaha forest. Both males and females perform songs, often synchronized with each other. The motives are varied, and they always serve to communicate something to their fellows, such as signaling their presence and marking their territory.
The forest is the lemur’s pharmacy
Sometimes lemurs use what they find in the forests where they live to self-medicate. For example, brown red-fronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons) eat millipedes to get rid of some intestinal parasites, such as worms. This is because some toxins contained in millipedes are able to kill these unpleasant parasites.
Lemurs used rafts to get to Madagascar
Lemurs are believed to have arrived in Madagascar 40-50 million years ago, which is long after it became an island. But how did they get there? The most accepted theory is that they arrived from the African continent on rafts of vegetation. The absence of predators allowed them to colonize Madagascar and evolve into different species.
Lemurs are at risk of extinction!
Unfortunately, these fascinating animals are among the most endangered lemurs in the world, at critical risk of extinction due to the destruction of their habitat. That is why the World Sustainability Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Turin, DBIOS, U Onlus and Idea Ginger, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to restore the singing lemurs’ habitat.
The goal is to reach 2,500 euros to plant about ten thousand trees in five hectares of forest and thus expand the home of Ravina and the other lemurs of Maromizaha. Also, thanks to the WSF initiative, ten women from the local community will be involved in seed collection activities in the forest and remunerated. Technicians, villagers neighboring Maromizaha, and students will also be engaged in various activities.
Help us protect lemurs!