Familia Lepilemuridae

Rumpler and Rakotosamimanana, 1972

General characteristics

The family Lepilemuridae contains the single extant genus Lepilemur. Many fossil forms are placed within this family, e.g. the genus Megaladapis. In this context, this family is also called Megaladapidae Major, 1893. In addition to some primitive characters genus Lepilemur and the megaladapids share only a few derived characters (Tattersall and Schwartz, 1974; Tattersall and Schwartz, 1975; Szalay and Katz, 1973).

The sportive lemurs are unique among the lemuroids due to several derived characters. The size of Lepilemur (head and body) does not exceed 25 to 35 cm, and the tail is almost as long as the body. The upper incisors are missing. They are leaf-eaters, territorial, and move by jumping in an upright position from trunk to trunk. The species of Lepilemur are all nocturnal and are easy to trace by the calls they make during dusk.

Lepilemur are found in natural forest all over Madagascar (Map Lepilemur). They live solitarily but many also form small core populations.