The enigma of antipredator behavior in lemurs: Evidence of a large extinct eagle on Madagascar
- Cite this article as:
- Goodman, S.M. Int J Primatol (1994) 15: 129. doi:10.1007/BF02735238
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Numerous zoologists who study diurnal lemurs on Madagascar have noted that they react strongly to the presence of birds of prey. For two of the most intensively studied lemurs, Propithecus verreauxiand Lemur catta,there are few documented cases of raptor predation. Thus, the maintenance of this stereotypic response is enigmatic. Bird bones recovered from cave surface deposits in southwestern Madagascar include the remains of an eagle (Aquila),a genus that has disappeared from Madagascar and that would have been capable of hunting animals the size of adult P. verreauxi and L. catta.The stereotypic response of these two lemurs toward raptors may have been retained from the period when this extinct eagle inhabited the island and is reinforced by rare acts of predation by extant birds of prey.