Ring-tailed Lemur

Ring-tailed Lemur

name = Ring-tailed LemurMSW3 Groves|pages=117|id=12100056]
status = NT
trend = down
status_system = iucn3.1
status_ref =

regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Primates
familia = Lemuridae
genus = "Lemur"
genus_authority = Linnaeus, 1758
species = "L. catta"
binomial = "Lemur catta"
binomial_authority = Linnaeus, 1758

range_map_caption=Distribution of "Lemur catta"Mittermeier, p. 238]
synonyms = Genus:
*"Catta" Link, 1806
*"Maki" Muirhead, 1819
*"Mococo" Lesson, 1878
*"Odorlemur" Bolwig, 1961
*"Procebus" Storr, 1780
*"Prosimia" Boddaert, 1785 Species:
*"mococo" Muirhead, 1819

The Ring-tailed Lemur ("Lemur catta") is a relatively large Strepsirhine primate, a lemur belonging to the family Lemuridae. The only species in the monotypic genus "Lemur", it is found only on the island of Madagascar — like all other lemurs. Known locally as HiraMittermeier, p. 246] cite web |last=McGinley |first = M |coauthors=World Wildlife Fund |date=2008-08-21 |title = Primate Factsheets: Madagascar spiny thickets |publisher=Encyclopedia of Earth |url=http://www.eoearth.org/article/Madagascar_spiny_thickets |accessdate=2008-08-30] cite web |title = Ringtailed Lemur |publisher=Duke Lemur Center |url=http://lemur.duke.edu/animals/ringtailed/print.php |accessdate=2008-08-30] (Malagasy) or Maki (French, Malagasy), it inhabits gallery forests to spiny scrub in the southern regions of the island. In addition to being diurnal, it is also the most terrestrial of all lemurs.

The Ring-tailed Lemur is widely recognized and easily distinguished from other lemur species by its long, black and white ringed tail. It is highly social, as well as matriarchal, a trait uncommon in primates. Like other lemurs, this species relies strongly on its sense of smell, and marks its territory with scent glands. Furthermore, it is one of the most vocal primates, with numerous vocalizations, including group cohesion and alarm calls.

Although threatened by habitat destruction and therefore listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN Red List,IUCN2008|assessors=Ganzhorn "et al"|year=2008|id=11496|title=Lemur catta|downloaded=06 Oct 2008 Listed as Near Threatened (NT v3.1)] the Ring-tailed Lemur is the most populous lemur in zoos worldwide, with more than 1000 in captivity.cite web |date = 2003 |title = Ring-tailed Lemur, Lemur catta fact sheet |publisher=San Diego Zoo Library |url=http://library.sandiegozoo.org/factsheets/lemur_ring-tailed/lemur.htm |accessdate=2008-08-30] It reproduces readily in captivity and typically lives up to 27 years (16 to 19 years in the wild). Facilities actively involved in its conservation include the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, NC, the Myakka City Lemur Reserve (part of the Lemur Conservation Foundation) in Myakka City, FL, the Madagascar Fauna Group headquartered at the Saint Louis Zoo, and the Berenty Reserve in southern Madagascar.


The term "lemur" was selected by early biologists because the calls of some elusive lemur species brought to mind the cries of the spirits of the dead, or lemures, from Roman mythology.Garbutt, p. 85-86] The species name, "catta", comes from the similarity between the Ring-tailed Lemur's purring vocalization and that of the domestic cat.

Evolutionary history

No mammalian fossil record has existed in Madagascar until recent times.Mittermeier, p. 23-26] Consequently, little is known about the evolution of the Ring-tailed Lemur, let alone the order Lemuriformes, which comprises the entire endemic primate population of the island. However, chromosomal and molecular evidence strongly suggest that all lemurs are more closely related to each other than to other Strepsirrhine primates, which further suggests that a very small ancestral population came to Madagascar via a single rafting event between 47-57 million years ago. Subsequent evolutionary radiation and speciation has created the diverse array of Malagasy lemurs seen today. As for the Ring-tailed Lemur, it is currently thought that it may share closer affinities than the rest of its subfamily, Lemurinae, to the bamboo lemurs of the genus "Hapalemur",Garbutt, p. 146-148] Mittermeier, p. 237] which may be a sister group of the family Lemuridae.cite journal | last=Groves | first=Colin P. | coauthors=Trueman, John W. H. | authorlink=Colin Groves | date=1995 | title=Lemurid systematics revisited | journal=Journal of Human Evolution | volume=28 | issue=5 | pages=427-437 | doi=10.1006/jhev.1995.1033]

Taxonomic classification

The genus "Lemur" contains only one species, the Ring-tailed Lemur.

* Family Lemuridae
** Subfamily Lemurinae
*** Genus "Lemur": the Ring-tailed Lemur
*** Genus "Eulemur": brown lemurs
*** Genus "Varecia": ruffed lemurs
** Subfamily Hapalemurinae: bamboo lemurs
*** Genus "Hapalemur": lesser gentle or bamboo lemurs
*** Genus "Prolemur": greater bamboo lemur

Changes in taxonomy

The Ring-tailed Lemur, along with brown lemurs and ruffed lemurs, were once grouped together in the genus "Lemur". In fact, the Ring-tailed Lemur's skeleton is nearly indistinguishable from that of the brown lemurs. However, the ruffed lemurs were reassigned to the genus "Varecia" in 1962; and due to similarities between the Ring-tailed Lemur and the bamboo lemurs, particularly in regards to molecular evidence and similarities in the scent glands, the brown lemurs were moved to the genus "Eulemur" in 1988. Consequently, the genus "Lemur" is now monotypic, containing only the Ring-tailed Lemur. Although not all authorities agree, the majority of the primatological community currently favors this classification.

Anatomy and physiology

An adult Ring-tailed Lemur may reach a body length between convert|39|and|46|cm|in|lk=on|abbr=on and a weight between convert|2.3|and|3.5|kg|lb|lk=on|abbr=on.Mittermeier, p. 246-249] The Ring-tailed Lemur has a slender frame and narrow face, reminiscent of a vulpine muzzle. Like all lemurs, the Ring-tailed Lemur has hind limbs longer than its forelimbs. Females have two pairs of mammary glands, but only one pair is functional.


The Ring-tailed Lemur's trademark, a long, bushy tail, is ringed in alternating black and white transverse stripes, numbering thirteen to fifteen each for both colors, and always ending in a black tip. Its tail is longer than its body, measuring up to cm to in|64|abbr=yes in length. The tail is not prehensile and is only used for balance, communication, and group cohesion.

Pelage and skin

The pelage is dense, with the ventral (chest) coat and throat being white or cream, and the dorsal (back) coat and neck being gray to rosy-brown. The crown is dark gray, while the ears and cheeks are white. The muzzle is dark grayish and the nose is black, and the eyes are encompassed by black lozenge-shaped patches.

The skin is black in color, and visible on the nose, genitalia, and the palms and soles of the limbs. Like all lemurs, the Ring-tailed Lemur's fingers are slender, padded, and semi-dexterous with flat, human-like nails. Also in common with all lemurs, the Ring-tailed Lemur has a toilet-claw (sometimes referred to as a "grooming claw") on the second toe of each hind limb specialized for grooming purposes. [cite web|title=Lemur Basics|url=http://www.lemurs.us/basics.html|accessdate=2008-08-28] Additionally, this primate grooms orally by licking and tooth-scraping with narrow, procumbent lower incisors and canines, called a toothcomb.


The species' eyes can be a bright yellow or orange, which stay the same color from the time they are born. Unlike most diurnal primates, but like all strepsirhine primates, the Ring-tailed Lemur has a tapetum lucidum, or reflective layer on its eye, which enhances night vision.

cent glands

Furless scent glands are present on both males and females. Both genders have apocrine and sebaceous glands in their genital regions,cite journal |author=Scordato, E.S., Dubay, G., & Drea, C.M. |year=2007 |title=Chemical Composition of Scent Marks in the Ringtailed Lemur (Lemur catta): Glandular Differences, Seasonal Variation, and Individual Signatures |journal=Chemical Senses |volume=32 |pages=493-504 |doi=10.1093/chemse/bjm018] as well as antebrachial glands located on the inner surface of the forearm in proximity of the wrist. However, only the male has a horny spur that overlays this scent gland. The males also have brachial glands on the axillary surface of their shoulders.


The Ring-tailed Lemur is diurnal and semi-terrestrial. It is the most terrestrial of all lemur species, spending as much as 33% of its time on the ground. However, like other lemurs, it is also considerably arboreal, spending 23% of its time in the mid-level canopy, 25% in the upper-level canopy, 6% in the emergent layer, and 13% in small bushes. Troop travel is 70% terrestrial.cite web | last = Cawthon Lang | first = KA | date = 2005-09-21 | title = Primate Factsheets: Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) Taxonomy, Morphology, & Ecology |publisher = Wisconsin Primate Research Center (WPRC) | url = http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/ring-tailed_lemur | accessdate = 2008-09-23]

Troop sizes range from 6 to 25, with 13 to 15 being the average and groups over 30 individuals being recorded. Troop size, home range, and population density vary by region and food availability. Home range sizes range between convert|6|and|35|ha|acre|abbr=off|lk=on.cite book | author = Gould, L. | coauthors = Sauther, M. | title = Primates in Perspective | chapter = Lemuriformes | editor = Campbell, C., Fuentes, A., MacKinnon, K., Panger, M., & Bearder, S. | year = 2007 | page = 53| isbn = 978-0-19-517133-4] Troops of the Ring-tailed Lemur will maintain a territory, but overlap is often high. When encounters occur, they are agonistic. A troop will usually occupy the same part of its range for 3 or 4 days before moving. When it does move, the average traveling distance is convert|1|km|mi|2|abbr=on. Population density ranges from 100 individuals per convert|1|km²|sqmi|2|abbr=on in dry forests to 250-600 individuals per km² in gallery and secondary forests.

Geographic range and habitat

Found in southern and southwestern Madagascar and ranging further into highland areas than any other lemur, the Ring-tailed Lemur inhabits deciduous forests, dry scrub, montane humid forests, and gallery forests (forests along riverbanks). The Ring-tailed Lemur strongly favors gallery forests; such forests have now been cleared from much of Madagascar in order to create pasture for livestock. Depending on location, temperatures within its geographic range can range between Convert|-7|°C|°F|0|abbr=on|lk=on to Convert|48|°C|°F|0|abbr=on.

This species is found as far east as Tôlanaro, north to Belo sur Tsiribihina, along the west coast, and inland towards the mountains of Andringitra on the southeastern plateau. It can be seen in the Berenty Reserve, Andohahela National Park, Isalo National Park, and Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park.

ympatric relations

The following lemur species can be found within the Ring-tailed Lemur geographic range:

* Verreaux's Sifaka ("Propithecus verreauxi")
* Red-tailed Sportive Lemur ("Lepilemur ruficaudatus")
* White-footed Sportive Lemur ("Lepilemur leucopus")
* Red-fronted Brown Lemur ("Eulemur rufus")
* Greater Dwarf Lemur ("Cheirogaleus major")
* Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur ("Cheirogaleus medius")
* Aye-aye ("Daubentonia madagascariensis")
* Eastern Lesser Bamboo Lemur ("Hapalemur griseus")

In Western Madagascar, sympatric Ring-tailed Lemurs and Red-fronted Brown Lemurs have been studied together. Little interaction takes place between the two species. The Ring-tailed Lemur spends more time on the ground than the Red-fronted Brown Lemur. Also, while the diets of the two species overlap, they eat the foods in different proportions, with the Ring-tailed Lemur having a more varied diet.



The Ring-tailed Lemur is an opportunistic omnivore, although it primarily eats fruits and leaves, particularly those of the tamarind tree ("Tamarindus indica"), known natively as the kily tree. When available, tamarind can make up as much as 50% of the Ring-tailed Lemur's diet annually, especially during the dry, winter season. However, the Ring-tailed Lemur is known to eat from as many as 3 dozen different plant species and also includes flowers, herbs, bark, and sap in its diet. Additionally, it has been observed eating decayed wood, earth, spider webs, insect cocoons, arthropods (spiders, caterpillars, cicadas, and grasshoppers), and small vertebrates (birds and chameleons). It becomes increasingly opportunistic during the dry season.

ocial organization & interactions

The Ring-tailed Lemur lives in multi-male/multi-female troops, with a matriline as the core group. As with most lemurs, females socially dominate males in all circumstances, including feeding priority. Dominance is enforced by lunging, chasing, cuffing, grabbing, and biting. Young females do not inherit their mother's rank, while young males leave the troop between 3 and 5 years of age.cite book | first = Robert W. | Sussman | title = Primate Ecology and Social Structure | volume = Volume 1: Lorises, Lemurs and Tarsiers | page = 154-173 | year = 1999 | isbn = 0-536-02256-9] Both sexes have separate dominance hierarchies, with females having a distinct hierarchy and male rank being correlated with age. Generally, each troop has one to three central, high-ranking adult males, who interact with females more than other group males and lead the troop procession with high-ranking females. Lower ranking males are typically recently transferred males, old males, or young adult males that have not yet left their natal group. They tend to be marginalized from group activity, staying at the periphery of the group.

For males, social structure changes can be seasonal, with males immigrating between groups during the 6-month period between December through May. Established males transfer every 3.5 years, although young males may transfer every 1.4 years. Group fission occurs when groups get too large and resources become scarce.

In the mornings, the Ring-tailed Lemur sunbathes to warm itself. It faces the sun, sitting in what is frequently described as a "sun-worshipping" posture or Lotus position. However, it sits with its legs extended outward, not cross-legged, and will often support itself on nearby branches. Sunning is often a group activity, particularly during the cold mornings. At night, troops will split into sleeping parties, huddling closely together to keep warm. Groups of huddled Ring-tailed Lemurs are popularly referred to as "lemur balls".

Despite being primarily quadrupedal, the Ring-tailed Lemur can rear up and balance on its hind legs, usually for aggressive displays. When threatened, the Ring-tailed Lemur has been known to strike out with its short nails in a behaviour termed "jump fighting". This action is extremely rare outside of the breeding season when tensions are high and competition for access to mates is intense. Other aggressive behaviours include a "threat-stare", used to intimidate or start a fight, and a submissive gesture known as "pulled-back lips".

Border disputes with rival troops occur occasionally, and it is the dominant female's responsibility to defend the troop's home range. Agonistic encounters include staring, lunging approaches, and occasional physical aggression, and conclude with troop members retreating toward the center of the home range.

Olfactory communication

Like most other prosimians, olfactory communication is critically important for the Ring-tailed Lemur. Males and females scent mark both vertical and hortizontal surfaces at the overlaps in their home ranges using their anogenital scent glands. In order to mark vertical surfaces, the Ring-tailed Lemur will perform a handstand, grasping the highest point possible with its feet while it applies its scent.cite web | last = Cawthon Lang | first = KA | date = 2005-09-21 | title = Primate Factsheets: Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) Behavior |publisher = Wisconsin Primate Research Center (WPRC) | url = http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/ring-tailed_lemur/behav | accessdate = 2008-09-23] Use of scent marking varies by age, sex and social status.cite book | author = Gouzoules, H. | coauthors = Gouzoules, S. | title = Primates in Perspective | chapter = The Conundrum of Communication | editor = Campbell, C., Fuentes, A., MacKinnon, K., Panger, M., & Bearder, S. | year = 2007 | page = 624 | isbn = 978-0-19-517133-4] Male lemurs use their antebrachial and brachial glands to demarcate territories and maintain intragroup dominance hierarchies. The thorny spur that overlays the antebrachial gland on each wrist is scraped against tree trunks to create grooves anointed with their scent. This is known as "spur-marking".

In displays of aggression, males will engage in a social display behaviour called "stink fighting", which involves impregnating their tails with secretions from the antebrachial and brachial glands, and then waving the scented tail at male rivals.cite book | title = The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates | author = Rowe, N. | year = 1996 | page = 38 | isbn = 0-9648825-0-7] Males will also occasionally wave their scented tails at females as a form of sexual overture; this usually results in the female cuffing or biting the male, and elicits subordinate vocalizations from the would-be paramour.

Auditory communication

The Ring-tailed Lemur has a complex array of distinct vocalizations used to maintain group cohesion during foraging and alert group members to the presence of a predator. Calls range from simple, such as the purr Audio2|Lemur_catta--purr1.ogg, which expresses contentment, to complex, such as the sequence of clicks, close-mouth click series (CMCS), open-mouth click series (OMCS), and yaps Audio2|Lemur_catta--click_series_&_yaps.ogg, which is used during predator mobbing.cite journal |last = Macedonia |first = Joseph M. |date = 1993 |title = The Vocal Repertoire of the Ringtailed Lemur ("Lemur catta") |journal = Folia Primatologica |volume = 61 |pages = 186–217] Some calls have variants and undergo transitions between variants and/or other calls, such as an infant "whit" (distress call) transitioning from variant 1 to variant 2 Audio2|Lemur_catta--infant_whits_transition_var1-var2.ogg.

The most commonly heard vocalizations of the Ring-tailed Lemur are the moan Audio2|Lemur_catta--moan1.ogg (low-to-moderate arousal, group cohesion), early-high wail Audio2|Lemur_catta--early-high_wails1.ogg (moderate-to-high arousal, group cohesion), and clicks Audio2|Lemur_catta--clicks1.ogg ("location marker" to draw attention).

Breeding and reproduction

The Ring-tailed Lemur is polygynous, although one central male typically breeds with more females than the others do. Fighting is most common during the breeding season.cite web |last = Anderson |first = R |date = 1999 |title = Lemur catta |publisher = Animal Diversity Web |url = http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lemur_catta.html |accessdate = 2008-04-18] When receptive, females will present their backside, lift their tail, and look at her desired male over her shoulder. Males will typically inspect the female's genitals to determine receptiveness. Although females typically mate within their troop, they will occasionally seek out males from outside their troop.

The breeding season runs from mid-April to mid-May, with estrus lasting approximately 4-6 hours. Females mate with multiple males during their estrus period. Gestation lasts for about 135 days, with birth of the young generally occurring in September, but occasionally in October. In the wild, one offspring is the norm, although twins may occur. Ring-tailed Lemur infants have a birth weight of Convert|70|g|oz|abbr=on and are carried ventrally (on the chest) for the first 1–2 weeks, then dorsally (on the back). The young lemurs begin to eat solid food after two months and are fully weaned after five months. Sexual maturity is reached between 2.5–3 years. Male involvement in infant rearing is limited, although the entire troop, regardless of age or sex, can be seen caring for the young. Alloparenting between troop females can be seen, with instances of kidnapping having been reported. Infanticide by males also occurs occasionally. Due to harsh environmental conditions, accidents (such as falls), and predation, infant mortality can be as high as 50% within the first year, with as few as 30% reaching adulthood.

Cognitive abilities and tool use

Historically, the studies of learning and cognition in non-human primates have focused primarily on simians (monkeys and apes), while strepsirrhine primates, such as the Ring-tailed Lemur and its allies, have often been overlooked and popularly dismissed as unintelligent.cite journal | author = Ehrlich, E | coauthors = Fobes, JL & King, JE | title = Prosimian learning capacities | journal = Journal of Human Evolution | volume = 5 | year = 1976 | pages = 599–617] A couple factors, stemming from early experiments, have played a role in the development of this assumption. First, the experimental design of older tests may have favored the natural behavior and ecology of simians over that of strepsirrhines, making the experimental tasks inappropriate for lemurs. For example, simians are known for their manipulative play of non-food objects, whereas lemurs are only known to manipulate non-food objects in captivity, which is usually due to food association.cite journal | first = Alison | last = Jolly | authorlink = Alison Jolly | title = Prosimians' manipulation of simple object problems | journal = Animal Behaviour | volume = 12 | year = 1964 | issue = 4 | pages = 560-570 | doi = 10.1016/0003-3472(64)90080-6] Furthermore, lemurs are known to displace objects with their nose or mouth more so than with their hands. Therefore, an experiment requiring a lemur to manipulate an object without prior training would favor simians over strepsirrhines. Secondly, individual Ring-tailed Lemurs accustomed to living in a troop may not respond well to being isolated for testing in a laboratory environment, with past studies reporting them as becoming hysterical in such scenarios.cite journal | first = Geoffrey R. | last = Hosey | title = A glimpse into the lemur mind | journal = Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Symposium on Zoo Research | date = August 2000 | pages = 5-10 | url = http://www.biaza.org.uk/resources/library/images/ARSP2.pdf#page=11 | format = PDF] As a result of these early studies, lemurs were often omitted from further research.

This idea has been perpetuated by the commonly held view that the neocortex ratio (as a measure of brain size) indicates intelligence.cite journal | author = Dunbar, RIM | authorlink = Robin Dunbar | title = The Social Brain Hypothesis | journal = Evolutionary Anthropology | volume = 6 | year = 1998 | issue = 4 | pages = 178–190 | | url = http://www.liv.ac.uk/evolpsyc/Evol_Anthrop_6.pdf | format=PDF] In fact, primatologist Alison Jolly noted early in her academic career that some lemur species, such as the Ring-tailed Lemur, have evolved a social complexity similar to that of cercopithecine monkeys, but not the corresponding intelligence.cite journal | first = Alison | last = Jolly | authorlink = Alison Jolly | title = Lemur Social Behavior and Primate Intelligence | journal = Science | volume = 153 | year = 1966 | issue = 3735 | pages = 501-506 | doi = 10.1126/science.153.3735.501] More recently, and after years of observations of wild Ring-tailed Lemur populations at the Berenty Reserve in Madagascar and as well as baboons in Africa, she concluded that this highly social lemur species does not demonstrate the equivalent social complexity of cercopithecine monkeys, despite general appearances.cite journal | first = Alison | last = Jolly | authorlink = Alison Jolly | title = Pair-Bonding, Female Aggression and the Evolution of Lemur Societies | journal = Folia Primatologica | volume = 69 (Suppl. 1) | year = 1998 | pages = 1-13 | doi = 10.1159/000052693]

Regardless of this, research has continued to illuminate the complexity of the lemur mind, particularly that of the Ring-tailed Lemur. Even as early as the mid-1970's, studies had demonstrated that they could be trained through operant conditioning using standard schedules of reinforcement. Just like other vertebrates, the species has been shown to be capable of learning pattern, brightness, and object discrimination. Furthermore, it has been shown to learn a variety of complex tasks, often equaling, if not exceeding, the performance of simians.

More recently, research at the Duke Lemur Center has shown that the Ring-tailed Lemur can organize sequences in memory and retrieve ordered sequences without language.cite journal | first = Dustin | last = Merritt | coauthors = et al. | title = A Comparative Analysis of Serial Ordering in Ring-Tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta) | journal = Journal of Comparative Psychology | volume = 121 | issue = 4 | year = 2007 | pages = 363–371 | url = http://www.duke.edu/web/mind/level2/faculty/liz/Publications/Merritt,%20MacLean,%20Jaffe%20and%20Brannon%20(2007).pdf | format = PDF Reprint | doi = 10.1037/0735-7036.121.4.363] Additionally, the experimental design demonstrated that the lemurs were using internal representation of the sequence to guide their responses, and not simply following a trained sequence, where one item in the sequence cues the selection of the next item. But this is not the limit of the Ring-tailed Lemur's reasoning skills. Another study, performed at the Myakka City Lemur Reserve, suggests that this species, along with several other closely related lemur species, understand simple arithmetic operations.cite journal | first = Laurie R. | last = Santos | coauthors = Barnes, Jennifer L., & Mahajan, Neha | title = Expectations about numerical events in four lemur species (Eulemur fulvus, Eulemur mongoz, Lemur catta and Varecia rubra) | journal = Animal Cognition | volume = 8 | year = 2005 | pages = 253–262 | url = http://www.yale.edu/monkeylab/Main/Publications_files/santosetal.lemurnumber.pdf | format = PDF Reprint | doi = 10.1007/s10071-005-0252-4]

Since tool use is considered to be a key feature of primate intelligence, the apparent lack of this behavior in wild lemurs, as well as the lack of non-food object play, has helped reinforce the perception that lemurs have less intelligence than their simian cousins. However, another study at the Myakka City Lemur Reserve examined the representation of tool functionality in both the Ring-tailed Lemur and the Common Brown Lemur and discovered that, like monkeys, they utilized tools with functional properties (e.g., tool orientation, ease of use) instead of tools with nonfunctional features (e.g., color, texture).cite journal | first = Laurie R. | last = Santos | coauthors = Mahajan, Neha, & Barens, Jennifer L. | title = How Prosimian Primates Represent Tools: Experiments With Two Lemur Species (Eulemur fulvus and Lemur catta) | journal = Journal of Comparative Psychology | volume = 119 | year = 2005 | issue = 4 | pages = 394–403 | url = http://www.yale.edu/monkeylab/Main/Publications_files/santosetal.lemurtools.jcp.pdf | format = PDF Reprint | doi = 10.1037/0735-7036.119.4.394] Although the Ring-tailed Lemur may not use tools in the wild, it can not only be trained to use a tool, but will preferentially select tools based on their functional qualities. Therefore, the conceptual competence to utilize a tool may have been present in the common primate ancestor, even though the use of tools may not have appeared until much later.

Conservation status

Human activity is the greatest threat to the Ring-tailed Lemur. Habitat destruction is the greatest concern, with much of its range being cleared through annual burning to create pasture for livestock. Furthermore, overgrazing and the felling of trees for charcoal production are having a severe impact. This species is also hunted for food (bush meat) and kept as pets.cite web | last = Cawthon Lang | first = KA | date = 2005-09-21 | title = Primate Factsheets: Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) Conservation | publisher = Wisconsin Primate Research Center (WPRC) | url = http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/ring-tailed_lemur/cons | accessdate = 2008-09-23]

The Ring-tailed Lemur has both natural and introduced predators. Native predators include the Fossa ("Cryptoprocta ferox"), the Madagascar Harrier-hawk ("Polyboroides radiatus"), the Madagascar Buzzard ("Buteo brachypterus"), and the Madagascar Ground Boa ("Boa madagascariensis"). Introduced predators include the Small Indian Civet ("Viverricula indica"), the Domestic Cat, and the Domestic Dog.

Cultural references

* The Ring-tailed Lemur has been popularized in the Animal Planet television series Lemur Kingdom (United States) and Lemur Street (United Kingdom), as well as the character Julien in the animated films Madagascar (2005) and (2008). The television series depicts real events in the lives of wild Ring-tailed Lemurs, whereas the animated films depict anthropomorphic representations, with lemurs talking, singing, and dancing. The Ring-tailed Lemur was also the focus of the 1996 Nature documentary "A Lemur's Tale", which was filmed at the Berenty Reserve and followed a troop of lemurs. The troop included a unique infant named Sapphire, who was nearly albino, with white fur, sparkling blue eyes, and the characteristic ringed tail.

This species also played a role in the 1997 comedy film "Fierce Creatures", starring John Cleese, who has a passion for lemurs.cite web | url = http://www.dailyllama.com/news/2002/llama143.html | title = John Cleese Visits Lemurs at San Francisco Zoo | accessdate = 2008-09-23 | first = Hans ten | last = Cate | date = 2002-06-13 | publisher = PythOnline's Daily Llama ] In fact, John Cleese also hosted the 1998 documentary "In the Wild: Operation Lemur with John Cleese".

ee also

* Lemur Kingdom/Lemur Street




External links

*ARKive - [http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/mammals/Lemur_catta/ images and movies of the ring-tailed lemur "(Lemur catta)"]
* [http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/ring-tailed_lemur Primate Info Net "Lemur catta" Factsheet]
* [http://lemur.duke.edu/animals/ringtailed/ Duke Lemur Center: Ring-tailed Lemurs]
* [http://www.lemurreserve.org/ Lemur Conservation Foundation]
* [http://www.savethelemur.org/ Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG)]
* [http://animal.discovery.com/tv/lemur-kingdom/lemur-kingdom.html Animal Planet: "Lemur Kingdom"]
* [http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/lemur/ Nature: "A Lemur's Tale"]
* [http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/inthewild/cleese.html PBS: "In the Wild: Operation Lemur with John Cleese"]
* [http://www.nyas.org/snc/podcastdetail.asp?id=1845 New York Academy of Sciences Podcast]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ring-tailed lemur — katinis lemūras statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Lemur catta angl. ring tailed lemur vok. Katta; Katzenmaki rus. катта; кольцехвостый лемур; кошачий лемур pranc. lémur catta ryšiai: platesnis terminas… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • ring-tailed lemur — noun small lemur having its tail barred with black • Syn: ↑Madagascar cat, ↑Lemur catta • Hypernyms: ↑lemur • Member Holonyms: ↑genus Lemur …   Useful english dictionary

  • ring-tailed lemur — noun a species of lemur, Lemur catta, from Madagascar; it has a black and white ringed tail …   Wiktionary

  • ring-tailed lemur — noun a grey lemur with black rings around the eyes and a distinctive black and white banded tail. [Lemur catta.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • Calls of the Ring-tailed Lemur — The Ring tailed Lemur has a complex array of distinct vocalizations used to maintain group cohesion during foraging and alert group members to the presence of a predator. The tables below detail calls documented in the wild and studied at the… …   Wikipedia

  • brush-tipped ring-tailed phalanger — lemūrinis riestauodegis posumas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Pseudocheirus lemuroides angl. brushy tailed ringtail; brush tipped ringtail; brush tipped ring tailed phalanger vok. Lemuren… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • Lemur catta —   Lémur de cola anillada …   Wikipedia Español

  • Lemur — Taxobox name = LemursMSW3 Groves|pages=111 121|id=12100003] image width = 250px image caption =Ring tailed Lemurs ( Lemur catta ) regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Primates subordo = Strepsirrhini infraordo =… …   Wikipedia

  • Lemur catta — Katta Katta (Lemur catta) Systematik Ordnung: Primaten (Primates) Unterordnun …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lemur Street — Infobox Television show name = Lemur Street caption = Logo for Lemur Street show name 2 = Lemur Wars (Australia) Lemur Kingdom (US) genre = Nature, documentary, drama creator = director = creative director = narrated = Martin Shaw (UK) Franklin O …   Wikipedia