Thursday, November 23, 2006
The world's smallest primates, all residents of Madagascar, are the mouse lemurs of the genus Microcebus. German researchers have identified three previously unclassified members of this ever-expanding group. The new chipmunk-sized, nocturnal critters (Microcebus bongolavensis, Microcebus danfossi, Microcebus lokobensis) join a genus which has expanded considerably over the last decade as scientists race against deforestation and other threats to study Madagascarene fauna. A researcher from the German Primate Center in Gattingen explains that the mouse lemur species, which look very similar and need a lot of work to differentiate, appear to have been split up primarily by river barriers on the world's fourth-largest island.