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The Forest Primeval
Fossas: The Island's Top Dogs
Lemurs: The Oldest Primates
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First fossa encounter
Modern conservation movement
Mysterious extinction
2,000 years ago
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Home > Biodiversity > Lemurs: The Oldest Primates

These wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, tree-hopping vegetarians could easily be mistaken for a squirrel or strange species of skunk. But lemurs are primates -- the oldest living branch of primate on the evolutionary tree.

Graceful climbers, lemurs elude prowling fossas by taking refuge high in the treetops. When alarmed, they make sneezing and barking sounds. In most lemur societies, it's the female who rules the roost.

Madagascar is home to dozens of species of lemur, comprising various colors, shapes, and sizes. The mouse lemur is almost as diminutive as the name implies and the golden bamboo lemur takes its name from its coat and favorite meal.

Lemurs are jeopardized by human activity: clear-cutting has reduced their rainforest habitats and they've been illegally hunted for their meat.

Lemurs Close Up
The golden bamboo lemur, Milne Edwards' sifaka, the greater bamboo lemur, and the black and white ruffed lemur.
Forest Denizens
Photographs from the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in southern Madagascar.
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