Re: "birding-aus indri, fossa, aye-aye, sifaka, ruffed lemur = madagasca

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Subject: Re: "birding-aus indri, fossa, aye-aye, sifaka, ruffed lemur = madagascar"
From: "Susan Myers" <>
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 10:24:16 +1100
>Yes it was good with one problem. I don't think the pro-Lemurs floated to
>Madagascar as suggested. Is it not clear that Madagascar separated from
>Africa, moving east at the time that primate evolution was at that stage.
>(Just like NZ has no mammals because it left Gondwana before their
>development. Long before Madagascar separated from Africa.)

Hi Phil & Birding-Aus people,
This is interesting because I was also under the misapprehension that the
above was the case but on further research (isn't Birding-Aus great?!) I
found the following:

"Initially Madagascar remained attached to Africa but about 160 million
years ago it began to break away from its parent continent. Within at most
a few tens of millions of years the island had assumed its present
position......If Madagascar has been essentially where it is for the past
100 million years or more, we cannot explain the presence of lemurs in
Madagascar by an African 'founder effect'....It was not until the dawn of
the Age of Mammals, some 64 million years ago, that the primates seem to
have begun their diversification and primates comparable in evolutionary
level to the lemurs are not known in the fossil record until the beginning
of the Eocene epoch some 58 million years ago.....we have no choice but to
conclude that the ancestors of today's lemurs reached madagascar by a sea
crossing from Africa" Lemurs of Madagascar by Mittermeier, Tattersall,
Konstant, Meyers and Mast (1994).

The above is reiterated in The Mammals of Madagascar by Nick Garbutt (1999)

Of course, there are no doubt dissenting views to the above but many would
know that Mittermeier and Tattersall are the acknowledged experts in the
field of lemur research. So it's good to see that the BBC is on the ball
with their research!

Susan Myers
phone: +61 3 9819 2539
Email:Susan Myers 
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