Creatures of the Dark

pp 45-60

Predation, Pollination and Torpor in Two Nocturnal Prosimians: Cheirogaleus Major and Microcebus Rufus in the Rain Forest of Madagascar

  • Patricia C. WrightAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, SUNY at Stony Brook
  • , Louise B. MartinAffiliated withDoctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, SUNY at Stony Brook

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Cheirogaleus is the only known genus of primate with extended periods of torpor (Petter, 1978). Previous field studies of the two smallest rain forest species of nocturnal primates, Cheirogaleus major, the greater dwarf lemur and Microcebus rufus, the rufous mouse lemur, were based on anecdotal observations (Petter et al., 1977) or short-term studies (Harcourt, 1987; Martin, 1972; Hladik, 1979; Ganzhorn, 1989). Both species eat fruit, flowers, and insects, are seasonal breeders, have two to three offspring and protect their offspring in leaf nests (Petter et al., 1977). These data do not in themselves explain why in sympatric species, one species has an extended inactive period, but the other does not. A goal of this study was to shed light on some of the factors which might have contributed to the evolution of this behavior.