Nebraska Zoo Discovers Two Species of Lemurs
OMAHA, Neb. Researchers with the Henry Doorly Zoo have discovered two new species of lemurs, one of the most primitive and endangered primates in the world, the zoo announced Wednesday.
Dr. Edward Lewis will describe his findings in a December issue of the International Journal of Primatology, the zoo said. Lewis may have discovered three other new species of lemurs -- the world's smallest primate -- but other scientists must confirm his suspicions first, the zoo said.
These are the first new species ever discovered by the zoo, said its director, Dr. Lee G. Simmons.
Lewis, head of the genetics department at the zoo's Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research, has been working with conservation agencies in Madagascar since 1998. The world's wild population of lemurs, which has about 70 species, is found solely on the island, in the Indian Ocean.
Lewis' team has taken genetic samples from more than 1,800 lemurs and returned the animals to the wild, the zoo said.
The two new species are found in different forest environments, one dry on the island's west coast and the other in a rain forest on the east coast. The species will be known as Lepilemur mitsinjonensis and Lepilemur seali.
Neither of the two new species are on display at the zoo, but it is hoping to obtain some, Simmons said.
The discovery of any new species is significant, Simmons said, but finding two new species of primates is important to both science and conservation.
Typically large universities make such discoveries, he said, so this raises the zoo's stature.
"I think it simply means that it says we are players on a world class level," Simmons said.
Source: Associated Press