New primate species discovered on Madagascar

January 9, 2012
A Malagasy-German research team has discovered a new primate species in eastern Madagascar. Photo: B. Randrianambinina

A Malagasy-German research team has discovered a new primate species in the Sahafina Forest in eastern Madagascar, a forest that has not been studied before.

The name of the new species is Gerp’s mouse lemur (Microcebus gerpi), chosen to honour the Malagasy research group GERP (Groupe d’Étude et de Recherche sur les Primates de ). Several researchers of GERP have visited the Sahafina in 2008 and 2009 to create an inventory the local . They captured several mouse lemurs, measured them, took photos and small biopsies for genetic studies, and released them again.

Prof. Ute Radespiel, Institute of Zoology of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, analysed the samples and the morphological dataset, and confirmed that the animals from the Sahafina Forest belong to an undescribed species of the small nocturnal mouse lemurs.

"We were quite surprised by these findings. The Sahafina Forest is only 50km away from the Mantadia National Park in eastern Madagascar, which contains a different and much smaller , the Goodman’s mouse lemur", commented Prof. Radespiel. In contrast, the Gerp’s mouse lemur belongs to the group of larger mouse lemurs, i.e. has a body mass of about 68g, and is therefore almost "a giant" compared to the Goodman’s mouse lemur (ca. 44g body mass).

The distribution of the Gerp’s mouse lemur is probably restricted to the remaining fragments of lowland evergreen rain forest of this region in eastern Madagascar. Continuing deforestation poses a serious threat for these animals.

The researchers from Hanover/Germany, and Madagascar published their discovery together in the journal Primates.

Explore further: New Lemur species named for Field Museum scientist

More information: First indications of a highland specialist among mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) and evidence for a new mouse lemur species from eastern Madagascar, DOI: 10.1007/s10329-011-0290-2

Related Stories

Lemur's evolutionary history may shed light on our own

February 25, 2008

After swabbing the cheeks of more than 200 lemurs and related primates to collect their DNA, researchers at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (IGSP) and Duke Lemur Center now have a much clearer picture of their ...

New lemur: big feet, long tongue and the size of squirrel

December 13, 2010

( -- A species of fork-marked lemur believed to be new to science was discovered in the dry forests of Madagascar. It will be shown for the first time exclusively on BBC's "Decade of Discovery" special program ...

Sir Richard's possible folly

April 25, 2011

Moving animals, like the ring-tailed lemur, from one continent to another to save the species hasn't been done often and typically isn’t successful.

Recommended for you

A better way to read the genome

October 9, 2015

UConn researchers have sequenced the RNA of the most complicated gene known in nature, using a hand-held sequencer no bigger than a cell phone.

Threat posed by 'pollen thief' bees uncovered

October 9, 2015

A new University of Stirling study has uncovered the secrets of 'pollen thief' bees - which take pollen from flowers but fail to act as effective pollinators - and the threat they pose to certain plant species.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.