Break out the “awws”, because an adorable new species of lemur has just been discovered in Madagascar. Just look at its little face!
This delightful little animal will join more than 100 known species of lemur. Called Grove’s dwarf lemur, or Cheirogaleus grovesi, it was found in two of Madagascar’s national parks – Ranomafana and Andringitra. A study describing the animal is published in Primate Conservation.
It is specifically known as a dwarf lemur, one of several known in the genus Cheirogaleus, measuring just 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) long. Grove’s dwarf lemur has a reddish-brown fur, with brownish-black rings around its eyes. It weighs about 400 grams (0.9 pounds), while its tail measures a rather impressive 28 centimeters (11 inches) in length.
Dwarf lemurs are small primates that live in trees, and eat mostly fruit. They store fat in their long tails. Not too much is known about this particular animal yet, though.
“[The discovery] is indicative of how little we know about biodiversity in general, and even of our closest living relatives, the primates,” Russell Mittermeier from the Global Wildlife Conservation, a co-author on the study, told Mongabay.
The name comes from the late British-Australian primatologist Colin Groves, who passed away last year. He had identified more than 50 animal species during his career, with some of those including new dwarf lemurs like this one.
One thing that’s yet to be determined is its conservation status, although “its presence in two national parks and a protected corridor indicates that it is possibly more secure than lemur species that are not resident in protected areas,” the team note in their paper.
The animals were found either by hand or using remote darting – with nets catching the animals before they hit the ground – according to National Geographic. All animals were replaced at the point of capture after their weight and a few samples were taken.
DNA samples from several of the lemurs were taken to compare mitochondrial sequence data to other species. It’s thought there may also be other dwarf lemur species waiting to be found among existing or new data, too.
For now though, we’ll have to make do with this delightful little beast.