Ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar for World Lemur Day
© Image Source/Alam
The lemurs of Madagascar. The lemurs of Madagascar
What better place to ring in World Lemur Day than Madagascar? The island, about the size of Texas off the coast of southeastern Africa, is the native home to lemurs. Today you'll find over 100 species and subspecies of the critters here. Most are small, with a pointed nose, large eyes, and a tail. They mainly live in trees and can be highly social, like the ring-tailed lemurs on our homepage, or live a solo existence like the elusive aye-aye. Lemurs have opposable thumbs and five fingers with fingernails on each hand, characteristics that help secure their spot as members of the primate order of mammals. About 65 million years ago, scientists believe, lemurs drifted on rafts of vegetation from the African continent to the shores of Madagascar. Safe from competition and most predators, lemurs evolved into many highly specialized varieties and now can be found in almost all habitats on the island.
But lemurs are under increasing threat from hunting and forest destruction—a threat so great they're considered the most endangered group of primates in the world. World Lemur Day, held the last Friday in October, aims to raise awareness and encourage conservation to protect these extraordinary creatures from extinction.