A new species of extremely rare dwarf lemur, the Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus lavasoensis) has been discovered in the remote forests of southern Madagascar. A team of biologists from Madagascar and Germany led by Dr Andreas Hapke of the Johannes Gutenberg University’s Institute of Anthropology were the first to describe the new species.
“Together with Malagasy scientists, we have been studying the diversity of lemurs for several years now,” Dr Hapke said.
“It is only now that we were able to determine that some of the animals examined represent a previously unknown species.”
The new species is named Cheirogaleus lavasoensis after the Lavasoa Mountains, which harbor the entire known range of the species. Dr Hapke with co-authors Dr Dana Thiele, also from the Johannes Gutenberg University, and Dr Emilienne Razafimahatratra from the University of Antananarivo, gave it the common name Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur.
Five adult males, five adult females, and six six immature individuals were caught between October 2001 and December 2006. How did they manage to catch these elusive creatures you ask? With banana-baited traps of course! Looks like these lemurs are suckers for bananas. After having anesthetized them, the scientists took small tissue samples from the ear and stored them in tissue buffer at ambient temperature. They also measured the animals and released them at the respective sites of capture at dusk during the same day.
Initially the animals had been confused with another species of dwarf lemur, the furry-eared dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus crossleyi) but after reviewing the new specimen’s genetic code they established that it was in fact a distinctly different species.
The Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur measures up to 20 – 22 inches (50 – 55 cm) and weighs up to 0.3 kg. It differs from the Crossley’s dwarf lemur by its shorter head and wider ears.
Unfortunately, it is extremely endangered and while no formal data about its current population exists, biologists estimate that there are less than 50 individuals left in the wild.
Original article via Sci News