Lemur Catta (Maki) de Madagascar

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Lemur Catta (Maki) de Madagascar — Fotopedia
Lemur Catta (Maki) de Madagascar
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Fauna of Madagascar

The fauna of Madagascar is a part of the wildlife of Madagascar.

Madagascar has been an isolated island for about 70 million years, breaking away from Africa around 165 million years ago, then from India nearly 100 million years later. This isolation led to the development of a unique endemic fauna.

Before humans arrived about 2,000 years ago, there were many large and unusual animals living there, descended from species that were originally present when Madagascar became an island, or from species that later crossed the sea to Madagascar. Ecological niches were often filled by animals with quite different histories from those on the African mainland, often leading to convergent evolution. A large proportion of these endemic Malagasy animals have died out since the arrival of humans, most particularly the megafauna.

Despite this, and massive deforestation, Madagascar is still home to an incredible array of wildlife, the vast majority of which is unique in the world. Madagascar is a primary spot for ecotourism, with more than fifty national parks and other protected reserves.

There are believed to have been only five colonization events of terrestrial mammals from mainland Africa. They are the tenrecs, the lemurs, the Malagasy carnivorans, the nesomyine rodents, and the now-extinct bibymalagasians. The other mammalian colonizations are the amphibious hippopotamuses (now extinct) and bats.

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Lemuriformes is an infraorder of primate that falls under the suborder Strepsirrhini. It includes the lemurs of Madagascar, as well as the galagos and lorisids of Africa and Asia, although a popular alternative taxonomy places the lorisoids in their own infraorder, Lorisiformes.

Lemuriform primates are characterized by a toothcomb, a specialized set of teeth in the front, lower part of the mouth mostly used for combing fur during grooming.

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Ring-tailed lemur

The ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) is a large strepsirrhine primate and the most recognized lemur due to its long, black and white ringed tail. It belongs to Lemuridae, one of five lemur families, and is the only member of the Lemur genus. Like all lemurs it is endemic to the island of Madagascar. Known locally in Malagasy as maky ([makʲ] ( ), spelled maki in French) or hira, it inhabits gallery forests to spiny scrub in the southern regions of the island. It is omnivorous and the most terrestrial of lemurs. The animal is diurnal, being active exclusively in daylight hours.

The ring-tailed lemur is highly social, living in groups of up to 30 individuals. It is also female dominant, a trait common among lemurs. To keep warm and reaffirm social bonds, groups will huddle together. The ring-tailed lemur will also sunbathe, sitting upright facing its underside, with its thinner white fur towards the sun. Like other lemurs, this species relies strongly on its sense of smell and marks its territory with scent glands. The males perform a unique scent marking behavior called spur marking and will participate in stink fights by impregnating their tail with their scent and wafting it at opponents.

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Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar (Malagasy: Repoblikan'i Madagasikara [republiˈkʲan madaɡasˈkʲarə̥]; French: République de Madagascar) and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), as well as numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from India around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90 percent of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population as well as the recently spotted Cane Toad relative which, according to researchers, "could wreak havoc on the unique biodiversity in Madagascar."

Initial human settlement of Madagascar occurred between 350 BC and AD 550 by Austronesian peoples arriving on outrigger canoes from Borneo. These were joined around AD 1000 by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel. Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into eighteen or more sub-groups of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.

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List of lemur species

Lemurs are strepsirrhine primates, all species of which are endemic to Madagascar. They include the smallest primate in the world, Madame Berthe's mouse lemur, which weighs 30 grams (1.1 oz), and range up to the size of the indri, which can weigh as much as 9.5 kilograms (21 lb). However, recently extinct species grew much larger. As of 2010, five families, 15 genera, and 101 species and subspecies of lemur were formally recognized. Of the 101 species and subspecies, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified eight as Critically Endangered, 18 as Endangered, 15 as Vulnerable, four as Near Threatened, eight as Least Concern and 41 as Data Deficient; seven were yet to be evaluated. From 2000 through 2008, 39 new species were described and nine other taxa resurrected. By 2014, the number of species and subspecies recognized had increased to 105; of these, the IUCN classified 24 as Critically Endangered, 49 as Endangered, 20 as Vulnerable, three as Near Threatened, three as Least Concern and four as Data Deficient; two were yet to be evaluated.

The number of lemur species is likely to continue growing in the coming years, as field studies, cytogenetic and molecular genetic research continues. There is not complete agreement over the latest revisions to lemur taxonomy, with some experts preferring an estimated 50 lemur species. The debates are likely to continue, as some scholars label the explosive growth of species numbers as taxonomic inflation. In many cases, classifications will ultimately depend upon which species concept is used. In the case of the lemurs of Madagascar, which have suffered extensively from deforestation and habitat fragmentation, nearly 25% of all species are either Endangered or Critically Endangered, most have yet to be extensively studied, and nearly all populations are in decline. For these reasons, taxonomists and conservationists favor splitting them into separate species to develop an effective strategy for the conservation of the full range of lemur diversity. Implicitly, this means that full species status will help grant genetically distinct populations added environmental protection.