Answer one of natural history’s most intractable questions
The falanouc (Eupleres goudotii), one of Madagascars most enigmatic carnivorans, is a descendent of animals that dispersed from Africa to the island 24 million to 18 million years ago. This nocturnal, solitary animal lives in lowland forests, specializes in eating earthworms and other invertebrate prey, and is endangered.
Photo courtesy of The Field Museum, Neg. CSA77048
All of Madagascars living Carnivora (an order of mammals that includes dogs, cats, bears, hyenas and their relatives) descended from a single species that dispersed from Africa to Madagascar, apparently floating across the ocean barrier aboard wayward vegetation about 24 million to 18 million years ago. Previously, scientists believed that Madagascars seven living species of native Carnivora represented two to four separate lineages, which would have implied that these animals colonized the island independently several times.
The surprising findings will be published in Nature Feb. 13, 2003.
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