Madagascar yields three new primate species

Scientists have found three new species of mouse lemur in the forests of Madagascar, a large island nation off Africa’s southeastern coast.

The newly named creatures, described in the journal Molecular Ecology, bring the total number of mouse lemur species to 24. Mouse lemurs are only found in Madagascar.

Though rodent-like in appearance, lemurs are nocturnal primates — more closely related to orangutans than field mice. Being omnivorous, they eat everything from insects and grubs to fruit and flowers.

Many species of mouse lemurs look nearly identical. Genetic analysis is the only reliable way to distinguish one species from another. Biologists continue to differ over what amount of genetic difference constitutes a new group or species…

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