Madagascar is home to many of the planet’s most weird, wonderful and endangered wild animals. Now, there's one more to join that list: Cheirogaleus andysabini, aka the Andy Sabin’s dwarf lemur.
The species were first discovered in 2005 but has only just been formally identified after an exhibition in February 2015 at the Montagne d’Ambre National Park. The findings were described in the journal Primate Conservation by Dr Runhua Lei and his colleagues from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Stony Brook University, Australian National University and the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership.
The newly discovered dwarf lemur was named as an homage to Andy Sabin, a New York businessman who has supported and funded countless environment causes. The journal said, “His longterm interest, his enthusiasm, and his generosity have helped to encourage many researchers and conservationists, young and old alike.”
The research looked at genetic differences between other species of lemurs to assess whether its features were distinct enough for this population to be classified as a new species. In addition, they assessed its geographic isolation from other populations of dwarf lemurs, from which they concluded it was indeed a new species.
Also known as Montagne d’Ambre Dwarf lemur, the new primate weighs up to 310 grams (11 ounces) as an adult and has a body length of around 18 centimeters (7.1 inches) and a huge tail length around 27 centimeters (10.6 inches). There is insufficient information on this species to assess the conservation status. However, the report said that the proximity of the park’s boundary and local settles means it is at risk of deforestation and hunting. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that 90% of lemur species are threatened due to illegal logging and poaching.