Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA says lemur lookalikes are 2 new species

26.03.2013
Scientists have identified two new species of mouse lemur, the saucer-eyed, teacup-sized primates native to the African island of Madagascar.

The new study brings the number of recognized mouse lemur species to 20, making them the most diverse group of lemurs known. But because these shy, nocturnal primates look so much alike, it's only possible to tell them apart with genetic sequencing.

The new mouse lemurs weigh 2.5 to 3 ounces (about 65 to 85 grams) and have grey-brown fur. "You can't really tell them apart just looking at them through binoculars in the rainforest," said senior author Peter Kappeler of the German Primate Center in Goettingen, who earned his PhD at Duke in 1992.

The researchers named one of the new species the Anosy mouse lemur, or Microcebus tanosi. Anosy mouse lemurs are close neighbors with grey mouse lemurs and grey-brown mouse lemurs, but the genetic data indicate they don't interbreed.

The researchers named the other new species the Marohita mouse lemur, or Microcebus marohita, after the forest where it was found. In Malagasy, the word "marohita" means "many views."

"Despite its species' name, this mouse lemur is threatened by ongoing habitat destruction, and 'many views' of its members are unlikely," the researchers write.

The two new species were first captured by co-author Rodin Rasoloarison of the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar during trips to the eastern part of the country in 2003 and 2007. Rasoloarison weighed and measured them and took tiny skin samples for genetic analysis in the lab.

Co-authors Anne Yoder and Dave Weisrock, both at Duke University at the time, analyzed two mitochondrial and four nuclear DNA genes to figure out where the animals fit into the lemur family tree. Their genetic analyses were published in 2010, but this is the first time the species have been formally named and described.

Funded by a grant from the German Research Foundation, the study is published in the March 26 online issue of the International Journal of Primatology.

During a 2012 return trip to the forest where the Marohita mouse lemur lives, Rasoloarison discovered that much of the lemur's forest home had been cleared since his first visit in 2003. The state of the lemur's habitat prompted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to classify the new species as "endangered" even before it was formally described.

"This species is a prime example of the current state of many other lemur species," Kappeler said. Mouse lemurs have lived in Madagascar for 7 to 10 million years. But since humans arrived on the island some 2,500 years ago, logging and slash and burn agriculture have taken their toll on the forests where these tree-dwelling primates live.

Only 10 percent of Madagascar's original forests remain today, which makes lemurs the most endangered mammals in the world according to the IUCN.

"Knowing exactly how many species we have is essential for determining which areas to target for conservation," Kappeler said.

A better understanding of mouse lemur diversity could help humans too. Mouse lemurs are a closer genetic match to humans than mice and rats, the most common lab animals. At least one species -- the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) -- develops a neurological disease that is strikingly similar to human Alzheimer's, so the animals are considered important models for understanding the aging brain.

"But before we can say whether a particular genetic variant in mouse lemurs is associated with Alzheimer's, we need to know whether that variant is specific to all mouse lemurs or just select species," said Lemur Center Director Anne Yoder.

"Every new mouse lemur species that we sample in the wild will help researchers put the genetic diversity we see in grey mouse lemurs in a broader context," she said.

CITATION: Rasoloarison, R., et al. (2013). "Two new species of mouse lemurs (Cheirogaleidae: Microcebus) from eastern Madagascar." International Journal of Primatology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10764-013-9672-1

Robin Ann Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

Further reports about: DNA German language Kappeler Madagascar Microcebus Mouse Primatology new species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion
26.07.2017 | Penn State

nachricht New virus discovered in migratory bird in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
26.07.2017 | Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>