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Three new species of Mouse Lemur recognised

20/02/2007 00:00:00
Three new kinds of mouse lemur have been recognised on Madagascar in the inaccessible forest fragments of north-west Madagascar. They were discovered by scientists from the Institute for Zoology at the University of Veterinary Medicine (TiHo) in Hanover, working with Madagascan colleagues.
Mouse Lemurs. © TiHo.
At first sight the three new lemurs hardly differ outwardly from already known species, however genetic differences show them to be separate species (this is highly ironic as other news this week showed that three species of Mouse lemur that were previously thought to be distinct are actually all genetically identical, read the story here).

The habitats of these are small and separated from each other by broad rivers. This geographical separation makes it possible that these lemurs have evolved separately over thousands of years.
Gillian Olivieri, who identified the new species. © TiHo.
Mouse lemurs, with a body size of between 10-12 centimetres, are the smallest primates in the world, weighing as little as 30 grams. Being so small and nocturnal adds to the difficulty of conducting research in such a remote region.

The three lemurs were actually discovered in 2003, but it has taken until now to get them recognised as new species.

The results of the research are published in the Journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

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