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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Smallest Primate On The Planet

I recently watched a TV documentary about the minute Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae) and I really enjoyed it. These minute creatures are currently known as the smallest primate on the planet, with an average body length of less than 100mm long and weighing something like 30g. This species is endemic to the lovely island of Madagascar (renowned as the fourth largest island in the world). These minute lemurs were only lately described as a species, in 2000.

Mouse lemurs have large eyes due to its nocturnal nature. They spend practically all of their life in trees, sometimes sleeping in a burrow otherwise nesting during the day, but more commonly just sleeping in the branches and hunting during the night. Their diet varies from fruit and favored honeydew of plant hopper larvae to chameleons. These minute lemurs have the extraordinary ability to lower their metabolic rate and body temperature throughout the cold weather which saves precious water and energy. Given that lemurs only live in a single place and new species are being discovered often, it is critical to maintain habitat and food sources for these sweet minute lemurs. For a video of a mouse lemur, click here.

Source: BBC
Image: Mammals´Planet

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