Two new lemur species discovered

CHICAGO--German and Malagasy primatologists have discovered two new species of lemurs, naming one of them after Steve Goodman, a Field Museum scientist who has devoted nearly two decades to studying the animals of Madagascar.

Lemurs in the wild are found only in Madagascar, one of the most important conservation hotspots on Earth. Lemurs are the last living link to ancient primates that have a common link to the primate lineage that evolved into humans. Therefore, they are extremely important to understanding the origin, evolution and ecology of human beings.

Finding a new species of lemur is rare; this discovery brings the number of known lemur species from 47 to 49. Many species have become extinct since humans first populated Madagascar about 1,500 years ago, and lemurs are considered the most endangered of all primates. The new lemurs were discovered by scientists at the German Primate Center (DPZ) and the University of Gttingen and are described in the current issue of the journal Primate Report (http://www.dpz.gwdg.de/infra/primrep.htm). The findings will be presented on August 10 to the scientific community at the Congress of the European Federation for Primatology in Gttingen, Germany.

"The discovery of these two new species highlights the fact that we still have a lot to learn about patterns and causes of biodiversity, even among our closest biological cousins," says Peter M. Kappeler, Department of Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology at DPZ in Gttingen. "Even though Steve Goodman and others have sampled the remotest corners of Madagascar, we are still not near a final count for lemurs and other species found there."

Detective work

The first new lemur was discovered when scientists analyzed and compared morphological, genetic and behavior data from distinct populations of the giant mouse lemur, Mirza coquereli.

Traditionally, only one species of giant mou

Contact: Greg Borzo
Field Museum

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