Ring-tailed lemur

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Ring-tailed lemur
CITES Appendix I (CITES)[2]
Scientific classification edit
Kinrick: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Cless: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Strepsirrhini
Faimily: Lemuridae
Genus: Lemur
Linnaeus, 1758
Species: L. catta
Binomial name
Lemur catta
Linnaeus, 1758
Cairt o Madagascar, aff the sootheast coast o Africae, wi a range kiverin maist o the soothwast portion o the island.
Distribution of Lemur catta[1]


  • Prosimia Brisson, 1762[N 1]
  • Procebus Storr, 1780
  • Catta Link, 1806[N 2]
  • Maki Muirhead, 1819[N 3]
  • Mococo Trouessart, 1878[N 4]
  • Odorlemur Bolwig, 1960


  • Maki mococo Muirhead, 1819[N 5]

The ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) is a muckle strepsirrhine primate an the maist recognised lemur due tae its lang, black an white ringed tail. It belangs tae Lemuridae, ane o five lemur families, an is the anly member o the Lemur genus. Lik aw lemurs, it is endemic tae the island o Madagascar. Kent locally in Malagasy as maky ([makʲ] ( listen), spelled maki in French) or hira, it indwells gallery wids tae jaggy scrub in the soothren regions o the island. It is omnivorous an the maist terrestrial o lemurs. The ainimal is diurnal, bein active alanerly in daylicht oors.

The ring-tailed lemur is heich social, livin in groups o up tae 30 individuals. It is female dominant an aa, a trait common amang lemurs. Tae keep warm an reaffirm social bonds, groups will crull thegether. The ring-tailed lemur will sunbathe an aa, sittin upricht facin its unnerside, wi its thinner white fur taewart the sun. Lik ither lemurs, this species lippens strang on its sense o smell an marks its territory wi scent glands. The males perform a unique scent marking behaviour cried spur marking an will participate in stink fights bi impregnatin thair tail wi thair scent an waftin it at opponents.

As ane o the maist vocal primates, the ring-tailed lemur uises numerous vocalisations includin group cohesion an alarm caas. Experiments hae shawn that the ring-tailed lemur, in maugre o the lack o a lairge harn (relative tae simiiform primates), can organise sequences, unnerstaun basic arithmetic operations an preferentially select tuils based on functional qualities.

In maugre o reproducin readily in captivity an bein the maist populous lemur in zoos warldwide, numberin mair nor 2,000 individuals, the ring-tailed lemur is listed as endangered bi the IUCN Red List due tae habitat destruction an huntin for bush meat an the exotic pet tred.

Etymology[eedit | eedit soorce]

Tho the term "lemur" wis first intendit for slender lorises, it wis suin leemitit tae the endemic Malagasy primates, that hae been kent as "lemurs" ever syne.[5] The name derives frae the Latin term lemures,[6] that refers tae specters or ghosts that wis exorcised in the Lemuria festival o auncient Roum.[7] Accordin tae Carl Linnaeus' ain explanation, the name wis select acause o the nocturnal activity an slaw movements o the slender loris.[6] Bein fameiliar wi the wirks o Virgil an Ovid an seein an analogy that fit wi his naming scheme, Linnaeus adaptit the term "lemur" for thir nocturnal primates.[8] Housomiver, it haes been commonly an fausely assumed that Linnaeus wis referring tae the ghost-lik appearance, reflective een, an ghostly cries o lemurs.[6] It haes been speculated that Linnaeus m hae kent that the some Malagasy fowk hae held legends that lemurs are the souls o thair ancestors,[9] but this isna lik as tae be, gien that the name wis selected for slender lorises frae Indie.[6] The species name, catta, refers tae the ring-tailed lemur's cat-lik appearance. Its purrin vocalisation is seemilar tae that o the domestic cat.[3]

Follaein Linnaeus' species description, the common name "ringtailed maucauco" wis first penned in 1771 bi Welsh naturalist Thomas Pennant, wha made note o its characteristic lang, striped tail. (The term "maucauco" wis a common term for lemurs at this time.) The nou universal Inglis name "ring-tailed lemur" wis first uised bi George Shaw in his illustrated scienteefic publication kiverin the Leverian collection published atween 1792 an 1796.[6]

Anatomy an physiology[eedit | eedit soorce]

The ring-tailed lemur is a relatively muckle lemur. Its average wecht is 2.2 kilogram (4.9 lb).[10] Its heid–body lenth ranges atween 39 an 46 cm (15 an 18 in), its tail lenth is 56 an 63 cm (22 an 25 in), an its tot lenth is 95 an 110 cm (37 an 43 in).[3][10] Ither measurements include a hind fit lenth o 102 an 113 mm (4.0 an 4.4 in), lug lenth o 40 an 48 mm (1.6 an 1.9 in), an cranium lenth o 78 an 88 mm (3.1 an 3.5 in).[3]

A ring-tailed lemur runs on the grund. Its lang tail trails behind it, demonstratin its lenth relative tae the body.
The ring-tailed lemur's tail is langer than its body.

The species haes a slender frame an narra face, tod-lik muzzle.[3] The ring-tailed lemur's trademark—a lang, bushy tail—is ringed in alternating black an white transverse stripes, numberin 12 or 13 white rings an 13 or 14 black rings, an aye endin in a black tip.[3][11] The tot nummer o rings nearly matches the approximate nummer o caudal vertebrae (~25).[12] Its tail is langer than its body[11] an is nae prehensile. Instead, it is anly uised for balance, communication, an group cohesion.[10]

The pelage (fur) is sae dense that it can clog electric clippers.[3] The ventral (chest) coat an thrapple are white or cream. The dorsal (back) coat varies frae gray tae rosy-broun, whiles wi a broun pygal patch aroond the tail region, whaur the fur grades tae fauch gray or grayish broun. The dorsal coloration is slichtly darker aroond the neck an crown. The hair on the throat, cheeks, an lugs is white or aff-white an less dense, allouin the dark skin unnerneath tae shaw throu.[3][4][10] The muzzle is dark grayish an the neb is black, an the een are encompassed bi black triangular patches.[3][10] Facial vibrissae (whiskers) are developed an foond abuin the lips (mystacal), on the cheeks (genal), an on the eyebrow (superciliary). Vibrissae are foond slichtly abuin the wrist on the unnerside o the foreairm an aa.[3] The lugs is relatively muckle compared tae ither lemurs an are kivered in hair, which haes anly smaw tufts if ony.[3][4] Awtho slicht pattern variations in the facial region mey be seen atween individuals, thare are no obvious differences atween the sexes.[3]

Unalike maist diurnal primates, but lik aw strepsirhine primates, the ring-tailed lemur haes a tapetum lucidum, or reflective layer ahint the retina o the ee, that enhances night vision.[13] The tapetum is heich visible in this species acause the pigmentation o the ocular fundus (back surface o the eye), which is present in—but varies atween—aw lemurs, is vera spotty. The ring-tailed lemur haes a rudimentary foveal depression on the retina. Anither shared characteristic wi the ither strepsirrhine primates is the rhinarium, a moist, naked, glandular neb supported bi the upper jaw an protruding awa fae the chin. The rhinarium continues doun whaur it divides the upper lip. The upper lip is attached tae the premaxilla, preventin the lip frae protrudin an requirin the lemur tae lap watter rather than uisin suction.[3]

Close-up o the chest o a male ring-tailed lemur shawin ane black scent gland abuin each airmpit
Close-up o a male ring-tailed lemur's wrist, shawin a black scent gland an a thorn-lik spur next tae it
Scent glands on a male: the brachial glands on the upper chest (left), an antebrachial gland an spur on the foreairm (richt)

The skin o the ring-tailed lemur is dark gray or black in colour, even in places whaur the fur is white. It is exposed on the neb, palms, soles, eyelids, lips, an genitalia. The skin is smooth, but the leathery texture o the haunds an feet facilitate terrestrial movement. The anus, locatit at the jynt o the tail, is covered when the tail is lowered. The aurie aroond the anus (circumanal aurie) an the perineum is kivered in fur. In males, the scrotum lacks fur, is covered in smaw, horny spines, an the twa sacs o the scrotum are dividit. The penis is near cylindrical in shape an is covered in smaw spines, as weel as haein twa pairs o lairger spines on baith sides. Males haes a relatively smaw baculum (penis bane) compared tae thair size. The scrotum, penis, an prepuce is uisually coated wi a foul-smelling secretion. Females haes a thick, elangatit clitoris that protrudes frae the labia o the vulva. The openin o the urethra is closer tae the clitoris than the vagina, formin a "drip tip."[3]

Females haes twa pairs o mammary glands (fower nipples), but anly ane pair is functional.[3][4] The anterior pair (closest tae the heid) is vera close tae the axillae (oxter).[3] Furless scent glands are present on baith males an females. Baith genders hae wee, dark antebrachial (forearm) glands meisurin 1 cm lang an locate on the inner surface o the forearm nearly 25 cm (9.8 in) abuin the wrist jynt.[3][4][10] (This trait is shared atween the Lemur an Hapalemur genera.[10]) The gland is saft an compressible, bears fine dermal ridges (lik fingerprints), an is connect tae the palm bi a fine, 2 mm–heich, hairless strip.[3] Housomiver, anly the male haes a horny spur that owerlays this scent gland.[3][4][10] The spur develops wi age throu the accumulation o secretions frae an unnerlyin gland that mey connect throu the skin throu sae mony as a thoosand minuscule ducts. The males hae brachial (arm) glands on the axillary surface o thair shouders (near the oxter) an aa. The brachial gland is lairger than the antebrachial gland, kivered in short hair aroond the periphery, an haes a naked crescent-shaped orifice near the centre. The gland secretes a foul-smelling, brown, sticky substance.[3] The brachial gland is barely developed if present at aw in females.[3][4] Baith genders hae apocrine an sebaceous glands in thair genital or perianal regions an aa,[14] which are covered in fur.[4]

Its fingers are slender, padded, maistly lackin wabbin, an semi-dexterous wi flat, human-lik nails. The thumb is baith short an widely separated frae the ither fingers. In maugre o bein set at a richt angle tae the palm, the thumb is nae opposable syne the ball o the jynt is fixed in place. As wi aw strepsirrhines, the haund is ectaxonic (the axis passes throu the fowert deegit) rather than mesaxonic (the axis passin throu the third deegit) as seen in monkeys an apes. The fowert deegit is the langest, an anly slichtly langer than the seicont deegit. Likwise, the fift deegit is anly slichtly langer than the seicont. The palms are lang an leathery,[3] an lik ither primates, thay hae dermal ridges tae improve grip.[15] The feet are semi-digitigrade an mair specialised than the haunds. The muckle tae is opposable an is smawer than the muckle tae o ither lemurs, that is mair arboreal. The seicont toe is short, haes a wee terminal pad, an haes a toilet-claw (whiles referred tae as a gruimin claw) specialised for personal gruimin, specifically tae rake throu fur that is unreakable bi the mooth.[3] The toilet-claw is a trait shared amang near aw livin strepsirrhine primates.[16] Unlik ither lemurs, the ring-tailed lemur's heel isnae covered bi fur.[3]

Close-up o a ring-tailed lemur's taes, shawin a claw-lik nail on the seicont tae (compared tae the nail on the third tae next tae it)
Close-up o a ring-tailed lemur's haunds, shawin black skin an dermal ridges
Close-up o a ring-tailed lemur's fit, shawin black skin an a lack o fur on the heel
Lik ither lemurs, the ring-tailed lemur haes a claw-lik nail (toilet-claw) on its seicond tae (left) an dermal ridges on its haunds tae improve its grip (center). Unalike ither lemurs, it lacks fur on its heel (richt).

Denteetion[eedit | eedit soorce]

Close-up o the front, bottom teeth o a ring-tailed lemur, shawin the first sax teeth pynt directly forward insteid o up-an-doun lik the canine-lik premolar behind them.
The front, lawer dentition includes a tuithcomb (4 incisors an 2 canine teeth), while the first premolars resemble canines.

The ring-tailed lemur haes a denteetion o × 2 = 36, meanin that on ilka side o the jaw it haes twa incisors, ane canine tuith, three premolars, an three molar teeth.[3] Its deciduous dentition is × 2 = 24.[17] The permanent teeth erupt in the follaein order: m 1/1 (first molars), i 2/2 (first incisors), i 3/3 (seicont incisors), C1 (upper canines), m 2/2 (seicont molars), c1 (lawer canines), m 3/3 (third molars), p 4/4 (third premolars), p 3/3 (seicont premolars), p 2/2 (first premolars).[3]

Its lawer incisors (i1 an i2) is lang, narra, an finely spaced while pynt naur straucht forwart in the mooth (procumbent). Thegether wi the incisor-shaped (incisiform) lawer canines (c1), that is slichtly lairger an procumbent, form a structur cried a tuithcomb,[3] a trait unique tae near aw strepsirrhine primates.[18] The tuithcomb is uised in oral gruimin, that involves lickin an tuith-scrapin. It can be uised for graspin wee fruit, remuivin leafs frae the stem whan eatin, an possibly scrapin sap an gum frae tree bark. The tuithcomb is kept clean uisin a sublingual organ—a thin, flat, fibrous plate that kivers a lairge pairt o the base o the tongue. The first lawer premolar (p2) follaein the tuithcomb is shaped lik a canine (caniniform) an occludes the upper canine, essentially fillin the role o the incisiform lawer canine. Thare is a diastema (gap) atween the seicont an third premolars (p2 an p3) an aa.[3]

The upper incisors is smaw, wi the first incisors (I1) space widely frae ilkane ither, yet closely tae the seicont incisors (I2). Baith o thaim is compressed buccolingually (atween the cheek an the tongue). The upper canines (C1) are lang, hae a braid base, an curve doun an back (recurved). The upper canines exhibit slicht sexual dimorphism, wi males exhibitin slichtly lairger canines than females. Baith sexes uise them in combat bi sleeshin wi them. Thare is a wee diastema atween the upper canine an the first premolar (P2), that is smawer an mair caniniform than the ither premolars. Unalike ither lemurs, the first twa upper molars (M1 an M2) hae prominent lingual cingulae, yet dae nae hae a protostyle.[3]

Ecology[eedit | eedit soorce]

The ring-tailed lemur can leap frae tree tae tree.

The ring-tailed lemur is diurnal an semi-terrestrial.[19] It is the maist terrestrial o lemur species, spendin as much as 33% o its time on the grund. Houiver it is still considerably arboreal, spendin 23% o its time in the mid-level canopy, 25% in the upper-level canopy, 6% in the emergent layer an 13% in smaw bushes. Troop traivel is 70% terrestrial.[20]

Troop size, home range, an population density vary bi region an fuid availability. Troops teepically range in size frae 6 tae 25, tho troops wi ower 30 individuals hae been recorded. The average troop contains 13 tae 15 individuals.[21] Hame range size varies atween 6 an 35 hectare (15 an 86 acre).[22] Troops o the ring-tailed lemur will maintain a territory, but owerlap is aften heich. Whan encounters occur, thay are agonistic, or hostile in naitur. A troop will uisually occupy the same pairt o its range for three or fower day afore flittin. Whan it flits, the average traivelin distance is 1 km (0.62 mi).[20] Population density ranges frae 100 individuals per 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi) in dry forests tae 250–600 individuals per km2 in gallery an seicontar forests.[11]

The ring-tailed lemur haes baith native an introduced predators. Native predators include the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), the Madagascar harrier-hawk (Polyboroides radiatus), the Madagascar buzzard (Buteo brachypterus) an the Madagascar grund boa (Boa madagascariensis). Introduced predators include the small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), the domestic cat an the domestic dog.[11]

Geografic range an habitat[eedit | eedit soorce]

Twa ring-tailed lemurs in thair naitural habitat, clingin vertically tae twa wee trees close tae the grund
The ring-tailed lemur can be foond in several pertectit auries, includin Isalo Naitional Pairk in Madagascar.

Endemic tae soothren an soothwastren Madagascar, the ring-tailed lemur ranges further intae highland auries than ither lemurs. It indwells deciduous wids, dry scrub, montane humid wids, an gallery wids (wids alang riverbanks). It strangly favours gallery wids, but siclike fwids haes nou been cleared frae the feck o Madagascar in order tae creaut pastur for livestock.[11][10] Dependin on location, temperaturesathin its geographic range can vary frae −12 °C (10 °F)[23] at Andringitra Massif tae 48 °C (118 °F) in the jaggy wids o Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve.[24]

This species is foond sae far east as Tôlanaro, inland taewart the mountains o Andringitra on the sootheastren plateau, amang the spiny forests o the soothren pairt o the island,[11][10] an north alang the wast coast tae the toun o Belo sur Mer.[3] Historically, the northren leemits o its range in the wast stendit tae the Morondava River near Morondava. It can still be foond in Kirindy Mitea National Park, juist sooth o Morondava, tho at very law densities. It disnae occur in Kirindy Forest Reserve, north o Morondava. Its distribution outower the rest o its range is vera spotty, wi population densities varyin widely.[10]

The ring-tailed lemur can be easy seen in five naitional pairks in Madagascar: Andohahela Naitional Pairk, Andringitra Naitional Park, Isalo National Park, Tsimanampetsotse National Park, an Zombitse-Vohibasia Naitional Pairk. It can be foond in Beza-Mahafaly Special Reserve, Kalambatritra Special Reserve, Pic d'Ivohibe Special Reserve, Amboasary Sud, Berenty Private Reserve, Anja Community Reserve, an marginally at Kirindy Mitea Naitional Park. Unpertected forests that the species haes been reportit in include Ankoba, Ankodida, Anjatsikolo, Anbatotsilongolongo, Bereny, Mahazoarivo, Masiabiby, an Mikea.[10]

Athin the pertected regions, it is kent tae inhabit, the ring-tailed lemur is sympatric (shares its range) wi as mony as 24 species o lemur, kivering ilka livin genus cep Allocebus, Indri, an Varecia. Historically, the species uised tae be sympatric wi the critically endangered soothren black-an-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata editorum), whilk wis ance foond at Andringitra National Park; housomiver, nae sichtins o the ruffed lemur hae been reportit in recent years.[25]

Leet o species sympatric wi the ring-tailed lemur[25]

In wastren Madagascar, sympatric ring-tailed lemurs an red-fronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons) hae been studied thegether. Little interaction taks place atween the twa species. While the diets o the twa species owerlap, thay eat in different proportions syne the ring-tailed lemur haes a mair varied diet an spends mair time on the grund.[20]

Behaviour[eedit | eedit soorce]

Diet[eedit | eedit soorce]

The ring-tailed lemur is an opportunistic omnivore primarily eatin fruits an leafs, parteecularly thaim o the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica), kent natively as kily.[11][20] Whan available, tamarind maks up 50% o the diet, enspecially throu the dry, winter saison.[11] The ring-tailed lemur eats frae sae mony as three dozen different plant species, an its diet includes flouers, yerbs, bark an sap. It haes been observed eatin decayed wid, earth, speeder webs, insect cocoons, arthropods (spiders, caterpillars, cicadas an grasshoppers) an smaw vertebrates (birds an chameleons).[11] In the dry saison, it becomes increasingly opportunistic.[26]

Social seestems[eedit | eedit soorce]

Troops are classifee'd as multi-male groups, wi a matriline as the core group.[27] As wi maist lemurs, females socially dominate males in aw circumstances, includin feedin priority. Dominance is enforced bi lunging, chasin, cuffin, grabbin an bitin. Young females dinnae aye inherit thair mither's rank an young males leave the troop atween three an five year o age.[20][27] Baith sexes hae separate dominance hierarchies; females hae a distinct hierarchy while male rank is correlatit wi age. Ilka troop haes ane tae three central, heich-ranking adult males wha interact wi females mair nor ither group males an lead the troop procession wi heich-ranking females. Recently transferred males, auld males or young adult males that hinnae yet left thair natal group is aften lawer rankin. Stayin at the periphery o the group, thay tend tae be marginalised frae group activity.[27]

A group o three ring-tailed lemurs rest in the sun, wi twa sittin upricht, facin the sun, wi thair arms tae thair sides.
The ring-tailed lemur will sit facing the sun tae warm itsel in the mornins.

For males, social structur chynges can be seasonal. Throu the sax-month period atween December an Mey, a few males immigrate atween groups. Established males transfer on average ilka 3.5 year,[20] tho young males mey transfer thareby ilka 1.4 year. Group fission occurs whan groups get too lairge an resoorces acome scarce.[27]

In the mornings, the ring-tailed lemur sunbathes tae warm itsel. It faces the sun sitting in what is frequently describit as a "sun-worshipping" posture or lotus position. Housomiver, it sits wi its legs extendit outward, nae cross-leggit, an will aften support itsel on nearby branches. Sunnin is aften a group activity, parteecularly in the cauld mornings. At nicht, troops will split intae sleepin parties huddlin close thegether tae keep warm.[27]

Despite bein quadrupedal the ring-tailed lemur can rear up an balance on its hind legs, uisually for aggressive displays. When threatened the ring-tailed lemur mey jump in the air an strike oot wi its short nails an sharp upper canine teeth in a behaviour termed jump fighting. This is extremely rare ootside o the breedin saison when tensions are heich an competeetion for mates is intense. Ither aggressive behaviours include a threat-stare, uised tae intimidate or stairt a fecht, an a submissive gesture kent as pulled-back lips.[27]

Border disputes wi rival troops occur occasionally an it is the dominant female's responsibility tae defend the troop's home range. Agonistic encounters include staring, lunging approaches an occasional physical aggression, an conclude wi troop members retreating toward the centre o the home range.[27]

Olfactory communication[eedit | eedit soorce]

Male ring-tailed lemurs will scent-merk saplings an branches bi spur-merkin.

Olfactory communication is critically important for strepsirrhines lik the ring-tailed lemur. Males an females scent merk baith vertical an horizontal surfaces at the owerlaps in thair home ranges uisin thair anogenital scent glands. The ring-tailed lemur will perform a haundstaund tae merk vertical surfaces, graspin the heichest pynt wi its feet while it applies its scent.[27] Uise o scent marking varies bi age, sex an social status.[28] Male lemurs uise thair antebrachial an brachial glands tae demarcate territories an maintain intragroup dominance hierarchies. The thorny spur that overlays the antebrachial gland on ilka wrist is scraped against tree trunks tae creaut grooves anointed wi thair scent. This is kent as spur-marking.[27]

In displays o aggression, males engages in a social display behaviour cried stink fichtin, whilk involves impregnating thair tails wi secretions frae the antebrachial an brachial glands an wavin the scented tail at male rivals.[29]

Ring-tailed lemurs haes been shawn tae merk uisin urine. Behaviorally, thare is a difference atween regular urination, whaur the tail is slichtly raised an a stream o urine is produced, an the urine marking behaviour, whaur the tail is held up in display an anly a few draps o urine are uised.[30][31] The urine-marking behavior is teepically uised bi females tae merk territory, an haes been observed primarily at the edges o the troop's territory an in auries whaur ither troops mey frequent.[32] The urine marking behavior is maist frequent in the matein saison, an mey play a role in reproductive communication atween groups.[30]

Auditory communication[eedit | eedit soorce]

Ring-tailed lemurs are some o the maist vocal primates.

The ring-tailed lemur is ane o the maist vocal primates an haes a complex array o distinct vocalisations uised tae maintain group cohesion in foragin an alert group members tae the presence o a predator. Caas range frae semple tae complex. An ensaumple o a semple caw is the purr (Aboot this soondlisten ), which expresses contentment. A complex caw is the sequence o clicks, close-mooth click series (CMCS), open-mooth click series (OMCS) an yaps (Aboot this soondlisten ) uised during predator mobbing. Some caws haes variants an unnergang transitions atween variants, lik an infant "whit" (distress caw) transitionin frae ane variant tae anither (Aboot this soondlisten ).[33]

The maist common heard vocalisations is the moan (Aboot this soondlisten ) (law-tae-moderate arousal, group cohesion), early-heich wail (Aboot this soondlisten ) (moderate-tae-heich arousal, group cohesion), an clicks (Aboot this soondlisten ) ("location marker" tae draw attention).[33]

Breedin an reproduction[eedit | eedit soorce]

In the wild, females teepically gie birth tae a single affspring.

The ring-tailed lemur is polygynandrous,[20] tho the dominant male in the troop teepically breeds wi mair females than ither males. Fighting is maist common during the breedin saison.[34] A receptive female mey initiate matein bi presenting her backside, liftin her tail an leukin at the desired male ower her shouther. Males mey inspect the female's genitals tae determine receptiveness. Females teepically mate athin thair troop, but mey seek males fae ootwi the troop.[20]

The breedin saison rins frae mid-Aprile tae mid-Mey. Estrus lests 4 tae 6 oors,[21] an females mate wi multiple males in this period.[20] Athin a troop, females stagger thair receptivity sae that ilka female comes intae saison on a different day in the breedin saison, reducin competeetion for male attention.[35] Gestation lests for aboot 135 days, an parturition occurs in September or occasionally October. In the wild, ane affspring is the norm, awtho twins mey occur. Ring-tailed lemur infants hae a birth wecht o 70 g (2.5 oz) an are carried ventrally (on the chest) for the first 1 tae 2 weeks, then dorsally (on the back).[21]

The young lemurs begin tae eat solit fuid efter twa month an is fou weaned efter five month. Sexual maturity is reakit atween 2.5 an 3 year.[34] Male involvement in infant rearin is leemit, awtho the entire troop, regairdless o age or sex, can be seen carin for the young. Alloparenting atween troop females haes been reportit. Kidnappin bi females an infanticide bi males occurs occasionally.[27] Due tae harsh environmental conditions, predation an accidents lik faws, infant mortality can be sae heich as 50% athin the first year an sae few as 30% mey reach adultheid.[21] The langest-lived ring-tailed lemur in the wild wis a female at the Berenty Reserve wha lived for 20 year.[11] In the wild, females rarely live past the age o 16, whaur the life expectancy o males isnae kent due tae thair social structur. The langest-lived male wis reportit tae be 15 year auld. The maximum lifespan reportit in captivity wis 27 years.[3]

Cognitive abilities an tuil uise[eedit | eedit soorce]

Historically, the studies o learnin an cogneetion in non-human primates hae focused on simians (monkeys an apes), while strepsirrhine primates, lik the ring-tailed lemur an its allies, haes been owerleuked an popularly dismissed as unintelligent.[36] A couple o factors stemmin frae early experiments hae played a role in the development o this assumption. First, the experimental design o aulder tests mey hae favoured the naitural behaviour an ecology o simians ower that o strepsirrhines, makin the experimental tasks inappropriate for lemurs. For ensample, simians is kent for thair manipulative play wi non-fuid objects, whauras lemurs is anly kent tae manipulate non-fuid objects in captivity.[37] This behaviour is uisually connected wi fuid association. Lemurs is kent for displacin objects wi thair neb or mooth mair sae than wi thair haunds.[36] Therefore, an experiment requirin a lemur tae manipulate an object wioot prior training wad favor simians ower strepsirrhines. Seicont, individual ring-tailed lemurs accustomed tae livin in a troop mey nae respond well tae isolation for laboratory testin. Past studies hae reportit hysterical behaviour in siclike scenarios.[38]

The notion that lemurs isna intelligent haes been perpetuate bi the view that the neocortex ratio (as a meisur o harn size) indicates intelligence.[39] In fact, primatologist Alison Jolly noted early in her academic career that some lemur species, lik the ring-tailed lemur, hae evolved a social complexity seemilar tae that o cercopithecine monkeys, but nae the correspondin intelligence.[40] Efter years o observations o wild ring-tailed lemur populations at the Berenty Reserve in Madagascar as weel as baboons in Africae, she mair recently concluded that this heich social lemur species disnae demonstrate the equivalent social complexity o cercopithecine monkeys, in maugre o the general appearances.[41]

Regairdless, research haes continued tae illuminate the complexity o the lemur mind, wi emphasis on the cognitive abilities o the ring-tailed lemur. Sae early as the mid-1970s, studies haed demonstrated that thay coud be trained throu operant conditioning uisin standard schedules o reinforcement. The species haes been shawn tae be capable o learnin pattern, brightness an object discrimination, skills common amang vertebrates. The ring-tailed lemur haes been shawn tae lear a variety o complex tasks eften equaling, if nae exceedin, the performance o simians an aa.[36]

Mair recently, research at the Duke Lemur Center haes shawn that the ring-tailed lemur can organize sequences in memory an retrieve ordered sequences wioot language.[42] The experimental design demonstrated that the lemurs war uisin internal representation o the sequence tae guide thair responses an nae simply follaein a trained sequence, whaur ane item in the sequence cues the selection o the next.[42] But this isnae the leemit o the ring-tailed lemur's reasoning skills. Anither study, performed at the Myakka City Lemur Reserve, suggests that this species alang wi several ither closely relatit lemur species unnerstaun semple arithmetic operations.[43]

Syne tuil uise is considered tae be a key featur o primate intelligence, the apparent lack o this behaviour in wild lemurs, as weel as the lack o non-fuid object play, haes helped reinforce the perception that lemurs is less intelligent than thair simian cousins.[37] Housomiver, anither study at the Myakka City Lemur Reserve examined the representation o tuil functionality in baith the ring-tailed lemur an the common brown lemur an diskivered that, lik monkeys, thay uised tuils wi functional properties (e.g., tuil orientation or ease o uise) instead o tuils wi nonfunctional features (e.g., colour or texture). Tho the ring-tailed lemur dinnae aye uise tuils in the wild, it cannae jist be trained tae uise a tuil, but will preferentially select tuils based on thair functional qualities. The conceptual competence tae uise a tuil mey hae been present in the common primate ancestor, even tho the uise o tuils mey nae hae appeared til a while later.[44]

Conservation status[eedit | eedit soorce]

In addition tae bein listed as endangered in 2014 bi the IUCN,[1] the ring-tailed lemur haes been listed syne 1977 bi CITES unner Appendix I,[2] that maks tred o wild-caught specimens illegal. Tho thare mair endangered species o lemur, the ring-tailed lemur is considered a flagship species due tae its recognisability.[45]

A wee group o five ring-tailed lemurs walks as a group alang a dirt road
Ring-tailed lemurs are a common sicht at Berenty Private Reserve in soothren Madagascar.

Three factors threaten ring-tailed lemurs. First an foremost is habitat destruction. Stairtin nearly 2,000 years ago wi the introduction o humans tae the island, wids hae been cleared tae produce pastur an agricultural land.[45] Extraction o haurdwids for fuel an lummer, as weel as minin an owergrazin, hae takken thair toll. Thir days, it is estimatit that 90% o Madagascar's oreeginal forest civer haes been lost.[46] Rising populations hae creaut even greater demand in the southwest portion o the island for fuel wid, charcoal, an lummer. Fires frae the clearin o grasslands, as weel as sleesh-an-burn agriculture destroy wids. Anither threat tae the species is hairstin aither for fuid (bush meat) or pets. Finally, periodic drocht common tae soothren Madagascar can impact populations awready in decline. In 1991 an 1992, for ensample, a severe drocht caused an abnormally heich mortality rate amang infants an females at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve. Twa year later, the population haed declined bi 31% an teuk near fower year tae stairt tae rekiver.[45]

The ring-tailed lemur bides in several pertected auries athin its range, ilkane o thaim offerin varyin levels o pertection. At the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, a holistic approach tae in-situ conservation haes been takken. No anly daes field research an resoorce management involve international students an local fowk (includin schuil childer), livestock management is uised at the peripheral zones o the reserve an ecotourism benefits the local fowk.[45]

Ootwi its diminishin habitat an ither threats, the ring-tailed lemur reproduces readily an haes fared weel in captivity. For this reason, alang wi its popularity, it haes acome the maist populous lemur in zoos warldwide, wi mair nor 2500 in captivity as o 2009. It is the maist common o aw captive primates.[10] Ex situ facilities actively involved in the conservation o the ring-tailed lemur include the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, NC, the Lemur Conservation Foundation in Myakka City, FL an the Madagascar Fauna Group headquartered at the Saint Louis Zoo. Due tae the heich success o captive breedin, reintroduction is a possibility if wild populations war tae crash. Tho experimental releases hae met success on St. Catherines Island in Georgia, demonstratin that captive lemurs can readily adapt tae thair environment an exhibit a fou range o naitural behaviours, captive release isnae currently bein considered.[45]

Ring-tailed lemur populations can benefit frae drocht intervention, due tae the availability o watterin troughs an introduced fruit trees, as seen at the Berenty Private Reserve in soothren Madagascar.[45] Housomiver, thir interventions arenae ay seen favorably, syne naitural population fluctuations are nae permitted. The species is thocht tae hae evolved its heich fecundity due tae its harsh environment.[45]

Cultural references[eedit | eedit soorce]

The ring-tailed lemur is kent locally in Malagasy as maky (pronoonced [ˈmakʲi̥], an spelled maki in French) or hira (pronoonced [ˈhirə] or colloquially [ˈir]). Bein the maist widely recognised endemic primate on the island, it haes been selected as the seembol for Madagascar National Parks (formerly kent as ANGAP).[10] The Maki brand, which stairtit bi selling T-shirts in Madagascar an nou sells claedin across the Indian Ocean islands, is named efter this lemur due tae its popularity, despite the fact that the company's logo portrays the face o a sifaka an its name uses the French spelling.[47]

The first mention o the ring-tailed lemur in Western literature came in 1625 whan Inglis traiveler an writer Samuel Purchas descrivit them as bein comparable in size tae a monkey an haein a tod-lik lang heich wi black an white rings.[3]

It haes been popularized in Western culture bi the Animal Planet televeesion series Lemur Street,[48][49] as weel as bi the character King Julien in the animatit Madagascar film an TV franchise.[50] The ring-tailed lemur wis the focus o the 1996 Nature documentary A Lemur's Tale, whilk wis filmed at the Berenty Reserve an follaed a troop o lemurs. The troop included a special infant named Sapphire, wha wis near albino, wi white fur, bricht blue een, an the characteristic ringed tail.[51]

This species played a role in the 1997 comedy film Fierce Creatures, starring John Cleese, who haes a passion for lemurs.[52][53] Cleese later hosted the 1998 BBC documentary In t tracked the progress o a reintroduction o black-an-white ruffed lemurs back intae the Betampona Reserve in Madagascar. The project haed been partly funded bi Cleese's donation o the proceeds frae the Lunnon premier o Fierce Creatures.[53][54]

Notes[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. The genus name Prosimia was declared unavailable by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in 1998.[3]
  2. Type species wis designatit as Catta mococo (= Lemur catta Linnaeus, 1758).[3]
  3. Type species wis designatit as Maki mococo (= Lemur catta Linnaeus, 1758).[3][4]
  4. The synonym Mococo is sometimes omittit acause it wis technically a vernacular term for the genus Prosimia.[4] René Primevère Lesson named the teep species for this genus as Prosimia catta (= Lemur catta Linnaeus, 1758) in the same year (1878).[3]
  5. Muirhead (1819) creditit the name Maki mococo tae Anselme Gaëtan Desmarest (1817), awtho it wis actually uised as a vernacular name.[3][4]
  6. The pale fork-marked lemur found at Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park may instead be a new species.[25]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

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  43. Santos, L.R.; Barnes, J.L.; Mahajan, N. (2005). "Expectations about numerical events in four lemur species (Eulemur fulvus, Eulemur mongoz, Lemur catta and Varecia rubra)" (PDF). Animal Cognition. 8 (4): 253–262. doi:10.1007/s10071-005-0252-4. PMID 15729569.
  44. Santos, L.R.; Mahajan, N.; Barnes, J.L. (2005). "How prosimian primates represent tools: Experiments with two lemur species (Eulemur fulvus and Lemur catta)" (PDF). Journal of Comparative Psychology. 119 (4): 394–403. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.119.4.394. PMID 16366773.
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  47. Mittermeier et al. 2010, Chapter 5.
  48. "Lemur Street". Southern Star Group. Archived frae the original on 12 September 2007. Retrieved 18 Januar 2008.
  49. "Lemur Street". Online Video Guide. Archived frae the original on 23 Januar 2015. Retrieved 22 Januar 2015. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)
  50. Mittermeier et al. 2010, pp. 93–95.
  51. "A Lemur's Tale: About". Nature. PBS. Februar 1997. Archived frae the original on 19 Januar 2015. Retrieved 22 Januar 2015. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)
  52. Hans ten Cate (13 Juin 2002). "John Cleese Visits Lemurs at San Francisco Zoo". PythOnline's Daily Llama. Archived frae the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  53. a b John Cleese (host) (1998). In the Wild: Operation Lemur with John Cleese (DVD). Tigress Productions Ltd for BBC. Archived frae the original on 5 Juin 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  54. Duke University (12 October 1998). "Four More Lemurs To Be Released Into Madagascar Jungle This Fall". Science Daily. Archived frae the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.

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