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Three New Primates Are Found in Madagascar

First Posted: Apr 18, 2016 06:00 AM EDT

Scientists have recently discovered three species of mouse lemurs in Madagascar. They can be found in the southern and eastern islands of the country and are said to have increased the number of known species to 24.

Mouse lemurs are small, nocturnal primates which can only be found in Madagascar. They all look very similar with their brown fur and large eyes. News Everyday reports that mouse lemurs have just been recently discovered because of the way they look and their ability to only be distinguished by means of genetic methods. Peter Kappeler, Head of the Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Unit at the German Primate Center, said that using new, objective methods help examine the genetic difference between both individuals.

Keppler also added that they have found evidences confirming three new species of mouse lemurs in the area. "The genetic techniques we used could facilitate species identification, thus also contributing to further new descriptions in other animal groups," he said.

According to Science Daily, the same group of researchers was responsible for describing two new species of mouse lemur 3 years ago. The 30g Madame Berthe's mouse lemur is the smallest primate in the world, which was discovered in 1993.

"To know the exact distribution area of individual species is necessary to identify functioning protected areas," says Kappeler. He has been conducting research for the German Primate Center in Madagascar for more than 20 years. "Furthermore, this new information is an important element towards better understanding how biodiversity on Madagascar arose," he added.

The IUCN's "Red List" revealed that there are over 100 known species of lemurs being threatened to extinction. They are now known to be the world's most endangered group of mammals that have been reduced because of the changes in the environment.

This study now shows that mouse lemurs are more different than scientists have expected and states that more species will be discovered using the genetic techniques.

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