Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Primate Report is, errr, reporting that two new species of lemurs (one in gen. Mirza, or giant mouse lemurs) have been discovered using genetic analysis. The new Mirza is called zaza ("child"). The other has been put in a new genus, and named Microcebus lehilahytsara ("good man"). The paper describing Mirza zaza is here in pdf. [Historical note - the genus was named by Asa Gray, Darwin's correspondent, in 1870.]

Madagascar is one of the most diverse regions of biodiversity in the world, and it is being reduced madly to a mess due to slash and burn farming.

It's a pity that Eureka Reports felt it necessary to justify conservation of these lemurs in terms of their being "extremely important to understanding the origin, evolution and ecology of human beings". They are worth conserving because the ecosystem of Madagascar is worth conserving. The world will be much poorer for the loss of this habitat.

Late note: ScienceNow reports that a new fossil lemur, Wadilemur elegans has been found in Egypt that pushes the origins of lemurs back to 35 million years.