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Lemurs are generally the most social of the strepsirrhine primates and communicate more with scents and vocalizations than with visual signals.
In 1915, paleontologist William Diller Matthew noted that the mammalian biodiversity on Madagascar (including lemurs) can only be accounted for by random rafting events, where very small populations rafted from nearby Africa on tangled mats of vegetation, which get flushed out to sea from major rivers., a report demonstrated that around 60 mya both Madagascar and Africa were 1,650 km (1,030 mi) south of their present-day positions, placing them in a different ocean gyre, producing currents that ran counter to what they are today.Today, there are nearly 100 species of lemurs, and most of those species have been discovered or promoted to full species status since the 1990s; however, lemur taxonomic classification is controversial and depends on which species concept is used.Even the higher-level taxonomy is disputed, with some experts preferring to place most lemurs within the infraorder Lemuriformes, while others prefer Lemuriformes to contain all living strepsirrhines, placing all lemurs in the superfamily Lemuroidea and all lorises and galagos in the superfamily Lorisoidea.Although many share similar diets, different species of lemur share the same forests by differentiating niches.Lemur research during the 18th and 19th centuries focused on taxonomy and specimen collection.Although field observations trickled in from early explorers, modern studies of lemur ecology and behavior did not begin in earnest until the 1950s and 1960s.
Initially hindered by political instability and turmoil on Madagascar during the mid-1970s, field studies resumed in the 1980s and have greatly increased the understanding of these primates.
They were also spared from having to compete with monkeys, which evolved later.
The intelligence, aggression, and deceptiveness of monkeys gave them an advantage over other primates in exploiting the environment.
-mər) are a clade of strepsirrhine primates endemic to the island of Madagascar.
The word lemur derives from the word lemures (ghosts or spirits) from Roman mythology and was first used to describe a slender loris due to its nocturnal habits and slow pace, but was later applied to the primates on Madagascar.
As with other strepsirrhine primates, such as lorises, pottos, and galagos (bush babies), lemurs share resemblance with basal primates.