A new species of lemur, living in southeastern Madagascar, has been discovered by a team of researchers from the New York State University Polytechnic Institute and the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium as well as the Global Wildlife Conservation and the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership.
Lemurs are a type of primate endemic to the island of Madagascar. There are currently 113 known species known to humans, many of which are considered vulnerable due to deforestation and poaching. This new species, the Grove Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus grovesi), found in the south of the island, lives in two distinct regions of Madagascar (two national parks classified as World Heritage by UNESCO): one is a tropical forest and the other is a mix of forests and meadows. Physically the animal is brown, with huge eyes, the size of a squirrel, with a tail around 10 inches.
Members of the new species in the rainforest spend their time in the canopy that provides shelter, food and a breeding place, the team reports. They are also supposed to live in social groups, but don’t mind spending time alone once in a while. Some specimens were captured using dart guns and nets for further study. The researchers collected blood and tissue samples, which will have shown that the species was unique.
“This new species is one of the new dwarf lemurs of the genus Cheirogaleus that have been discovered or are in the process of being discovered,” said Russell Mittermeier, a research team member in the journal Primate Conservation. “It’s indicative of the little we know about biodiversity in general, and even about our closest living relatives, primates.”
In order to better determine how this new species evolved, further research will be needed “so that protective measures can be taken to ensure the future of the lineage,” write the scientists. “112 species and subspecies of lemurs are endemic in Madagascar and “nearly 90% are threatened,” they conclude.
The new species has been named in honor of the recently deceased primatologist Colin Groves, who will have ranked nearly 50 species of mammals during his career.