A new species of dwarf lemur with the eyes of a bandit and the name of a philanthropist has been discovered in Madagascar.
Dubbed Cheirogaleus andysabini, or Andy Sabin's dwarf lemur, the creature is about the size of a small squirrel, has brownish-black rings around its eyes, and sports a white underside. Its name was chosen to honor New York businessman and philanthropist Andy Sabin, an active supporter of many environmental causes.
The animal, like all lemurs, is native to Madagascar. It lives in and at the boundaries of Montagne d'Ambre National Park and was first observed in 2005. But a study of new specimens and analyses of their genetic information by a team of scientists has determined that Cheirogaleus andysabini is a new species altogether.
The finding was made by scientists from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, who note that there may be even more dwarf lemur species to discover.
"Available genetic and morphological evidence suggests that Cheirogaleus is among the genera where diversity was previously underestimated," the team writes, "and additional fieldwork may reveal even more species."
While the vast majority of lemur species are considered at risk or vulnerable to extinction, the conservation status of the new dwarf has yet to be determined. However, the scientists are concerned that Montagne d'Ambre National Park's close proximity to a major port city suggests the lemur could face trouble due to habitat loss and hunting.
Findings about the new dwarf lemur have been published in the journal Primate Conservation.
Hat tip Sci-News