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Lemur: Evolution of a Suborder of Primate - Species of lemurs and Distinctions - Physical Traits
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Lemurs: Tails From The Canopy
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Lemurs: Natural History Introduction

What Is A Lemur?
A Lemur is a mammal, and a member of the primate order. They are prosimians, which is a suborder of primate. The family of lemurs has many species. Exactly how to count lemur species has been the subject of controversy but we have followed the view of many zoologists and counted Dwarf lemurs and true lemurs as part of the same family (Napier & Napier 1997) and therefor are counting 22 species.

Lemurs are prosimians and are therefore considered older, and some would say more ‘primitive’ members of the primate order. Primitive here should not be considered a pejorative term but one that defines prosimians as lacking certain physical attributes that emerged in later developing primates, and often retaining characteristics lost by later evolving primates.

The ancestors of contemporary Lemurs came from Africa, although they may not have originally evolved there; the fossil record is too scarce to draw clear conclusions. While African lemurs became extinct probably due to competition from later primates, monkeys and apes, these two groups never reached Madagascar. Consequently, lemurs survived on this island and spread out and diversified, ultimately evolving species adapted to all the ecosystems found on the island.

Distinctive Lemur Physical Traits
Lemurs all have relatively long and slender limbs, a longer muzzle than later primates do, and a slightly smaller brain. They all have a dental ‘comb’ comprised of the lower incisors, which they use for grooming. Lemurs use scent marking in addition to vocalizations as a means of communication and territorial marking… a behavioral trait rarely found in later evolving primates.

Lemurs In The Animal Kingdom
Lemurs are a ‘Family’ of mammals in the animal kingdom. But what does this really mean and how does it relate them to other animals?
Science understands the organization of nature to be hierarchical with each step on the ladder or branch of the tree describing a degree of physical similarity, and from more recent findings, genetic closeness. This branch of knowledge is called taxonomy.

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Physical Traits