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The Beza Mahafaly Lemur Biology Project

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Lemurs look different!
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What is a Ring-Tailed Lemur?


Ring-tailed lemurs look different!

They retain a number of primitive mammalian traits. For example: Reflective tapetum lucidum, which is a layer of cells in the wall of the eye that reflects light back onto the retina, enhancing visual acuity in dim light. They also retain derived traits common to most prosimian primates.

For example: Toothcomb, which is the front mandibular (lower jaw) teeth of ring-tailed lemurs form a "toothcomb". This comb consists of all four lower incisors and the two narrow, elongated canines. The origin of the prosimian toothcomb is often debated, and has been viewed as either a grooming or feeding tool (or possibly both). Ring-tailed lemurs use their toothcombs for both functions. Because of this dual use, ring-tailed lemur toothcombs often show excessive wear (sometimes more than 50%), in addition to frequent damage, including broken, chipped, and even missing teeth (Sauther et al., 2002; Cuozzo and Sauther, 2004).

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