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noun, plural: lemurs

Any of the small, nocturnal arboreal primates of the family Lemuridae characterized mainly by their foxlike muzzle or long snout, large eyes with stereoscopic vision, highly sensitive smell, wooly fur, and long tail


Lemurs are nocturnal primates of the family Lemuridae. They are allied to the monkeys. However, they are of small size. They have a sharp and foxlike muzzle, and large eyes. They feed upon birds, insects, and fruit. They are mostly are natives of Madagascar and the neighboring islands. Like other primates, lemurs have five divergent digits. They possess the so-called toilet claw, which is a laterally compressed, elongated nail on the second toe used for grooming and scratching.

Lemurs belong to the Strepsirrhini lineage. Thus, they are characterized to have a wet nose (rhinarium). They also have vomeronasal organ for pheromone detection. They lack postorbital closure and their orbits are not fully facing forward. They have a small brain-to-body mass ratio and as such are considered as primitive primates.

The species vary greatly in size. For instance, the smallest lemurs are the Madame Berthe's mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae) with the average body length of 9.2 cm and weight of about 30 g. The indris are regarded as the largest extant lemur. They have a head-and-body length of about 64 to 72 cm and weight ranging from 6 to 9.5 kg.

Word origin: Latin lemurēs ("spirits of the dead")

Scientific classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Primates
  • Suborder: Strepsirrhini
  • Infraorder: Lemuriformes
  • Family: Lemuridae

See also: