Posts Tagged ‘prosimians’

by , Keeper
I'm extremely excited to be working at the Museum since October 2010. My favorite part of this job- besides working with the animals- is listening to all of the Keeper stories, I hear a new one each day. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, belly dancing, and vegan cooking.
I work Sunday through Thursday. I can be found mostly behind the scenes or training the Ring Tail Lemurs.

Lemurs vs other primates

November 29th, 2011

In my last Lemur post I talked about the history of Lemurs, this blog will help you understand the differences between lemurs and the primates that we are more familiar with. When you hear the word primate- you probably think of a chimpanzee and the various species of monkey you’ve seen at zoos. Primates also include the great apes- orangutans, gorillas, gibbons, and humans as well as lemurs, lorises, bushbabies, and tarsiers.

Various primates

Traditionally primates are divided into two groups- Prosimians which include lemurs, lorises, and tarsiers and Anthropoids which include monkeys, apes, and humans.

However more recent classifications divides them this way – the suborder Strepsirhini includes lemurs, lorises, and bush babies and the suborder Haplorhini includes monkeys, apes, and tarsiers. Which is thought to reflect evolutionary history better than the Prosimian vs. Anthropoid. The difference between these two divisions are the tarsiers, which are more closely related to the Anthropoids, though they share certain features with the lemurs and lorises.

 

Primate faces

 

Prosimian vs Anthropoid

Ecologically speaking they are slightly different:  Anthropoids fill more niches than Prosimians, they are able to live in places which are drier, colder, sparser etc. They are also able to exploit more food sources than Prosimians. And Anthropoids are all diurnal, with one exception.

The National Zoo’s website had this great chart which breaks down the differences between Anthropoids (monkeys and apes) and Prosimians:

 

Prosimians Monkeys Apes
bushbaby

  • includes about 50 species; lemurs in Madagascar, lorises in West Africa and Southeast Asia and bushbabies in Africa
  • smallest in size
  • arms shorter than legs
  • strong hind legs for leaping and clinging to tree trunks
  • most are nocturnal
  • tooth comb
  • some have visible tails
  • grooming claws
  • wet nose and dog-like snout, developed sense of smell
  • light-reflecting eyes
monkey

  • includes more than 200 species, New World in South and Central America, Old World in Africa and Asia, and tarsiers in Southeast Asia
  • smaller in size
  • arms equal in length to or shorter than legs
  • limited shoulder rotation
  • diurnal (active during the day)
  • chest deeper than broad
  • most have visible tails
  • nails on all digits (except Callitrichidae—marmosets and tamarins)
  • dry nose, lack snout, weak sense of smell (large teeth may extend the snout)
gorilla

  • includes about 14 species; gorillas, bonobos, and chimpanzees in Africa, and orangutans and gibbons in Southeast Asia
  • larger in size (except for gibbons)
  • arms longer than legs
  • full shoulder rotation
  • diurnal
  • broad chest
  • no tails
  • nails on all digits
  • dry nose, lack snout, weak sense of smell
  • lack of hair on face

 

If you look at it this way—> Stepsirhini vs Haplorhini

Stepsirhini (lemurs) have a divided upper lip- only attached on the inside, they have a moist naked nose (like a dog), they also have eyes with a reflecting tapetum (which helps them pick up low levels of light), they have smaller brains, lower basal metabolic rates and they rely heavily on smell (olfactory) for communication. Whereas Haplorhini (monkeys and apes) have dry noses surrounded by hair, they have larger brains, higher basal metabolic rates and they rely on sight for communication

 

Lycus- one of our Ring Tailed Lemurs

 

Wondering what a tooth comb or a grooming claw is? In my next lemur post I’ll talk about what makes Lemurs unique.

 

Join the conversation:

  1. This is awesome! I can always fill up the Meet the Keeper-Lemur talks I do with interesting trivia and natural history about lemurs, but I often skirt around the “what makes them not a monkey?” when it comes up, simply because I’ve never had a super clear way to describe the differences. I think I’ll copy that last bit down and keep it with my other pocket info and business cards for those space cadet moments that always come at the most inopportune times.

    Posted by Sarah
  2. Keeper Comment :

    Thanks Sarah, I agree that explaining how lemurs differ from other primates is the hardest part. I tried writing it in my own words but the chart just says it all with little confusion so I had to add it. Hope it helps!

    Posted by Kimberly Lawson
  3. Thank you for the wonderfully organized information! I’m taking a primate class for the first time and your intro. was great for better understanding classification.

    Posted by Alyssa Kyper
  4. But don’t bonobos have longer legs than arms? (In reference to the National Zoo’s chart.)

    Posted by Alyssa Kyper
  5. Director Comment :

    There are exceptions to every rule Alyssa. A good Bonobo reference site is http://library.sandiegozoo.org/factsheets/bonobo/bonobo.htm

    Posted by Sherry Samuels

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by , Keeper
I'm extremely excited to be working at the Museum since October 2010. My favorite part of this job- besides working with the animals- is listening to all of the Keeper stories, I hear a new one each day. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, belly dancing, and vegan cooking.
I work Sunday through Thursday. I can be found mostly behind the scenes or training the Ring Tail Lemurs.

History of the Lemur

November 9th, 2011

Often times while I’m training the Ring Tailed Lemurs I over hear visitor’s comments.  “Oh look- she’s feeding the…. Raccoons? Monkeys? What is that animal?” At the end of each session I ask, any guests that managed to stay interested long enough, if they have any questions. Typically by this point they have read all the exhibit signs and know that the cute little animals with looooong tails are Lemurs. But what is a Lemur?

Training the Ring Tailed Lemurs

 

The word Lemur-which means ghost- because of their nocturnal behavior, reflecting eyes, and vocalizations, describes a small monkey-like mammal.  In fact these creatures can be quite elusive and there are probably several species yet to be discovered.

 

Mouse Lemur- notice the reflective eyes

 

Lemurs are in the order Primates- just like you and me and monkeys and apes. But not as advanced- you could call them pre-monkeys. They are in the suborder Strepsirhini and you may hear them called Prosimians.  The suborder Strepsirhini includes: lemurs, bush babies, lorises, and the aye aye. The other suborder under Primates is Haplorhini which include: monkeys, baboons, gibbons, orangutans, chimps, gorillas, and humans. You may hear us called Anthropoids as well. Strepsirhines are distinguished from Haplorhines by a number of physiological and morphological features of the inner ear, blood circulation and digestion.

Aye-Aye

 

So here’s the deal. Stepsirhinies appeared first, these early primates were nocturnal and aboreal and many current day lemurs still are (with exceptions of course) By the time Haplorhines arrived, lemurs had already drifted over to Madagascar and any remaining lemurs were quickly wiped out, too much competition with the higher more developed and advanced monkeys. Lemurs were isolated on the island and with little competition and predation they were able to inhabit all the different environments the island had to offer, there are lemurs in the moist tropical rainforest as well as the dry deserts areas of the island. This gave them the ability to develop into the many different and unique lemurs species there are today. Lemurs only live on Madagascar and the Comoro Islands- that means they are endemic. (Native to a specific region or environment and not occurring naturally anywhere else)

The Island of Madagascar

 

Enter humans…dun dun dun…2,000 years ago when humans first arrived on the island  they literally sent 15 species of lemur into extinction and pretty quickly. All of those 15 species were larger than the current day lemurs. There was even a gorilla sized lemur around 400 pounds- that’s a Lightning (our donkey) sized lemur! The biggest threat to lemur population today is still human encroachment. All lemurs are considered endangered or threatened to become endangered, in fact many are critically endangered, including our own Red Ruffed Lemurs.

 

What makes a lemur different than a monkey?

Check back soon for my next post, I’ll describe the differences between lemurs and other primates.

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by , Keeper
I'm extremely excited to be working at the Museum since October 2010. My favorite part of this job- besides working with the animals- is listening to all of the Keeper stories, I hear a new one each day. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, belly dancing, and vegan cooking.
I work Sunday through Thursday. I can be found mostly behind the scenes or training the Ring Tail Lemurs.

Second Smallest Primate in the World

April 11th, 2011

Last week at the Lemur -Meet the Keeper program, I meet two grandparents who told me all about the second smallest primate in the world and I wanted to share this adorable creature with you all.

boholwonders.wordpress.com

The Bohol Tarsier, who lives in the Philippines, belongs to the primate sub-order Prosimian- making them a close relative to the Lemurs here at the museum. They are obviously tiny little animals- no more than 5 inches long and 142 grams. (the smallest primate in the world is the mouse lemur- possibly a future blog post)

So here’s the cool stuff—> Tarsiers can actually rotate their head 180 degrees in each direction just like the Owls in Carolina Wildlife.  This small animal can leap up to 10 feet- how incredible is that? It’s believed they can gain so much air because they have extra long tarsal bones. In fact, that is where they get their name from, tarsal –> tarsier. They also have extremely sharp teeth for catching prey- which consists mostly of insects and small lizards, they eat lots of fruit as well. They are nocturnal just like our opossums. They live in groups and can live to the age of 20. The gestation period of the Tarsier is about 6 months and just one young is born at a time. Babies begin to move about after only 2 days and can jump after only 4 days. Which is quite different than how our possible red wolf pups will develop- they won’t even begin to venture outside of the den until they are about 4 weeks old.  

blogphilippines.com

Unfortunately there are only about 1,000 Bohol Tarsiers left in the wild.

http://kolumber.pl

Did I mention their facial expressions?!!!!!

Join the conversation:

  1. Keeper Comment :

    This was the video I was telling you about Kim http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTMf40ORFE8&feature=related makes me LOL

    Posted by Jill Brown
  2. love the eyes on that little guy

    Posted by Betty Linkenhoker
  3. Hi Iwas wondering if I could ask you a question about ring tail lemurs. Can a 14 month old lemur be casterated safely?

    Posted by Tammy
  4. Director Comment :

    Hi Tammy,
    I’m afraid I cannot accurately answer your question. It’s best to contact the Duke Lemur center, http://lemur.duke.edu/, as they are the world’s experts when it comes to lemurs.

    Posted by Sherry Samuels

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