International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 943–962 | Cite as

The Genus Cheirogaleus: Unrecognized Biodiversity in Dwarf Lemurs

  • Colin P. Groves


Two species of dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus) of Madagascar are conventionally recognized. To investigate this taxonomy, I studied the samples in the London and other collections. I could distinguish 7 different morphs, differing by size and by features of pelage, ears (hairy or naked), ear size, tail length, skull shape and dentition. As multiple features differentiate each form, they cannot be simply morphs within the two conventional species: they are discrete genetic entities, hence distinct species. The Cheirogaleus medius species group is split into two closely related allopatric species, C. medius from the western dry forests and C. adipicaudatus from the southern spiny forest. The Cheirogaleus major group has two widespread and partially sympatric species: C. major from the lowland rain forests and C. crossleyi from the plateau margins. I describe a species previously known only from the type series, Cheirogaleus sibreei, and two new species, one sympatric with C. major and one, apparently allopatric to all others, from the central plateau. I also discuss problems of nomenclature, dating from the original description itself.

Cheirogaleus dwarf lemur Madagascar new species biodiversity 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Albrecht, G. H., and Miller, J. M. A. (1993). Geographic variation in primates: A review with implications for interpreting fossils. In W. H. Kimbel and L. B. Martin (eds.), Species, Species Concepts, and Primate Evolution, Plenum Press, New York and London, pp. 123–161.Google Scholar
  2. Albrecht, G. H., Jenkins, P. D., and Godfrey, L. R. (1990). Ecogeographic size variation among the living and subfossil prosimians of Madagascar. Am. J. Primat. 22: 1–50.Google Scholar
  3. Elliot, D. G. (1913). A Review of the Primates. 3 vols., American Museum of Natural History, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Forsyth Major, C. I. (1894). Ueber die Malagassischen Lemuriden-Gattungen Microcebus, Opolemur, und Chirogale. Novit. Zool. 1: 2–39.Google Scholar
  5. Forsyth Major, C. I. (1896). Diagnoses of new mammals from Madagascar. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (6) 18: 318–325.Google Scholar
  6. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, E. (1812). Notes sur trois dessins de Commerçon. Ann. Mus. d'Hist. Nat., Paris, 19: 171–175.Google Scholar
  7. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, E. (1828). Cours de l'Histoire Naturelle des Mammifères. Paris.Google Scholar
  8. Grandidier, A. (1867). Description d'une nouvelle espèce de Chirogale. Ann. Sci. Nat., 5th series, Zool. Paléont. 8: 294.Google Scholar
  9. Grandidier, A. (1868). Sur les découverts zoologique faites récemment à Madagascar. Ann. Sci. Nat., 5th series, Zool. Paléont. 10: 375–378.Google Scholar
  10. Grandidier, A. (1870). Description de quelques animaux nouveaux, découverts à Madagascar, en novembre 1869. Rev. Zool. Pur et Appliquée (2), 22: 49–50.Google Scholar
  11. Gray, J. E. (1872). Notes on Propithecus, Indris and other lemurs (Lemurina) in the British Museum. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1872: 846–860.Google Scholar
  12. Groves, C. P. (1989). A Theory of Human and Primate Evolution, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gunther, A. (1875). Notes on some mammals from Madagascar. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1875: 78–80.Google Scholar
  14. Honess, P. E., and Bearder, S. (1996). Descriptions of the Dwarf Galago species of Tanzania. African Primates 2: 75–79.Google Scholar
  15. Kimbel, W. H., and Rak, Y. (1993). The importance of species taxa in paleoanthropology and an argument for the phylogenetic concept of the species category. In W. H. Kimbel and L. B. Martin (eds.), Species, Species Concepts, and Primate Evolution, Plenum Press, New York and London, pp. 461–484.Google Scholar
  16. Lesson, R.-P. (1840). Species des Mammifères Bimanes et Quadrumanes. Paris.Google Scholar
  17. Musser, G. G., and Holden, M. E. (1991). Sulawesi Rodents (Muridae: Murinae): morphological and geographical boundaries of species in the Rattus hoffmannii group and a new species from Pulau Peleng. In T. A. Griffiths and D. Klingener (eds.), Contributions to Mammalogy in Honor of Karl F. Koopman. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 206: 322–413.Google Scholar
  18. Petter, J.-J., Albignac, R., and Rumpler, Y. (1977). Faune de Madagascar. 44: Mammifères Lémuriens (Primates Prosimiens), ORSTOM/CNRS, Paris.Google Scholar
  19. Petter-Rousseaux, A., and Petter, J.-J. (1967). Contribution à la systématique des Cheirogaleinae (Lémuriens malgaches). Allocebus, gen.nov., pour Cheirogaleus trichotis Gunther 1875. Mammalia, 31: 574–582.Google Scholar
  20. Smith, A. (1833). African zoology. S. Afr. Quart. J. 2(1), pt.1: 17–32.Google Scholar
  21. Schwartz, J. H., and Tattersall, I. (1985). Evolutionary relationships of living lemurs and lorises (Mammalia, Primates) and their potential affinities with European Eocene Adapidae. Anthrop. Pap., Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 60: 1–100.Google Scholar
  22. Schwarz, E. (1931). A revision of the genera and species of Madagascar Lemuridae. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1931: 399–426.Google Scholar
  23. Tattersall, I. (1982). The Primates of Madagascar, Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Thalmann, U., and Rakotoarison, N. (1994). Distribution of lemurs in Central Western Madagascar, with a regional distribution hypothesis. Folia Primat. 63: 156–161.Google Scholar
  25. Wolf, J. (1822). Der Commerson'sche Maki. Lemur commersonii. Mihi. Abbildungen und Beschreibungen merkwurdiger maturgeschichtlicher Gegenstunde, ed.1, 2: 9–10.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin P. Groves
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Archaeology & AnthropologyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations