Mouse Lemurs: Origins, Morphology, Behaviour and Other Interesting Features

Evolution of the lemur species

The first diversification

During the first phase, which took place between the Late Eocene (42 million years ago) and the Oligocene (42 million years ago) (30 mya), global cooling occurred and changes in ocean currents affected weather patterns. These erratic changes led to the divergence of lorisoid primates as well as the five major clades of squirrels, all of which occupy niches comparable to lemurs. However, there is some debate as to which species diverged first. Some scientists argue that Cheirogaleidae and Lepilemuridae diverged the earliest, while others believe that the Indriidae and Lemuridae were the first to diverge.

The second diversification

The second major period of diversification occurred during the Late Miocene, between 8 and 12 million years ago, and includes the real lemurs (Eulemur) as well as mouse lemurs (Microcebus). This occurrence corresponded with the start of the Indian monsoons, the last big shift in Madagascar’s climate. In fact, when humans arrived on the island some 2,000 years ago, the populations of both true and mouse lemurs were considered to have separated owing to habitat fragmentation.



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