Chapter

Subfossil Lemurs of Madagascar

Laurie R. Godfrey, William L. Jungers and David A. Burney

in Cenozoic Mammals of Africa

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780520257214
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945425 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257214.003.0021
Subfossil Lemurs of Madagascar

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Madagascar's living lemurs (order Primates) belong to a radiation recently ravaged by extirpation and extinction. There are three extinct and five extant families (two with extinct members) of lemurs on an island of less than 600,000 square kilometers. This level of familial diversity characterizes no other primate radiation. The remains of up to seventeen species of recently extinct (or subfossil) lemurs have been found alongside those of still extant lemurs at numerous Holocene and late Pleistocene sites in Madagascar. The closest relatives of the lemurs are the lorisiform primates of continental Africa and Asia; together with the lemurs, these comprise the suborder Strepsirrhini. With regard to extinct lemurs, morphological, developmental, and molecular data support a sister taxon relationship for the Palaeopropithecidae (four genera) and the Indriidae. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of subfossil lemurs of Madagascar.

Keywords: Madagascar; subfossil lemurs; radiation; Holocene; primates; Africa; Palaeopropithecidae; Indriidae; Strepsirrhini; paleontology

Chapter.  13213 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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