Saturday 14 January 2012

New Mouse Lemur discovered in Madagascar.

Mouse lemurs are the smallest primates. They are nocturnal animals that resemble Tarsiers or Bush Babies, but are true lemurs, all 27 known species belonging to a single genus Microcebus. Like all modern lemurs they are found only in Madagascar (fossil lemurs are known from Africa, Asia and Europe).

On 24 December 2011 a paper appeared in the Online First form of the journal Primates by a team lead by Ute Radespiel of the Institute of Zoology at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, in which they describe the discovery of a new species of Mouse Lemur in the Sahafina Lowland Rainforest, close to the Mantadia National Park. The new species has been named as Microcebus gerpi, meaning Gerp's Mouse Lemur; Gerp is in this case not a person, but an abbreviated form of Groupe d'Étude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar, a Malagasy primate research group who's researchers gathered the material upon which this discovery is based; photographs, measurements and blood samples of individuals that were captured and then released.

Gerp's Mouse Lemur.

At 68 g the new species is big for a Mouse Lemur, it is grayish brown, and darker on the back than the front; a reddish line of fur runs down its spine. It is genetically quite distinct from other known Mouse Lemur species. Little is known of its behavior or ecology, but it is presumed to be endemic to the Sahafina Forrest, which is highly fragmented due to cultivation, suggesting that the species may be threatened by human activity.