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a family of prosimians of the order Primates. The lemurids are related to the lorisids. The body length measures 13–37 cm, and the tail length, 16–56 cm. The hind limbs are longer than the forelimbs; they have flat nails (a claw is present on the second digit of the foot). The hands and feet are prehensile; the thumb opposes the third and fourth digits. The pelage is thick and soft and often brightly colored. The face is elongated; there are five bundles of vibrissae. There is usually one pair of mammary glands, in most on the breast; in the Hapalemur there is one nipple on each shoulder. The lemurids have 36 teeth. The lower incisors and canines are almost horizontal, forming a kind of comb with which the animals, by means of the tongue, comb and smooth their fur. The lemurids clean their lower teeth with a kind of lower tongue—a fleshy outgrowth with a serrated edge. The brain is poorly developed (especially in Microcebus).
There are six genera (with 14 species): Lemur (true lemurs), Hapalemur (gentle lemurs), Lipelemur (sportive and weasel lemurs), Cheirogaleus (dwarf lemurs), Microcebus (mouse lemurs), and Phaner (fork-marked lemurs). They are distributed only on Madagascar, inhabiting tropical forests. The animals climb well, run along branches, and jump from branch to branch. They feed on fruits, berries, leaves, and flowers; some also eat bark, insects, and insect larvae. Most lemurids are active at night or at twilight, sleeping during the day in tree hollows or nests. Some lemurids live in groups of four to ten individuals or in herds of up to 60 individuals; others live in pairs or alone. After a gestation period of two to five months, one to three offspring are born. Lemurids are rapidly decreasing in numbers. Most species are protected, but this is of little help since the forest area of Madagascar is decreasing.
REFERENCESZhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.
Buettner-Janusch, J. Origins of Man. New York-London-Sydney, 1966.
Hill, W. C. O. Primates, vol. 1. Edinburgh, 1953.
Napier, J. R., and P. H. Napier. A Handbook of Living Primates. London-New York, 1967.
M. F. NESTURKH