Lemur, the name applied to many animals of the order qnadrumana or monkeys, of the families galeopithecidae and lemuridae, all of the old world. The galeopithecidae have been described under Flying Lemur. In the true lemurs (or prosimice, as they are sometimes called) the upper incisors are four, mostly in pairs, separate from the canines, and the lower four or two; the feet are five-toed, with opposable thumbs on the hind ones, and the fourth finger the longest; the hind feet the longest, with the nail of the second finger incurved, the other nails flat. The name lemur, which signifies ghost or spectre, was given to them by Linnaeus from their nocturnal habits. More than 30 species are known, divided into five principal genera, inhabiting chiefly Madagascar, a few living in Africa and the warm regions of Asia and its archipelago. Though classed with the quadrumana, they come nearer to the insectivora in the two-horned uterus, the permanent separation of the lower jaw at the symphysis, and the openness of the orbits behind. The head is rounded, and the snout so elongated and pointed that they are often called fox-nosed monkeys; the legs are tolerably long, the eyes large and in the front of the head, the ears small, the fur soft, and the tail generally long and bushy.
They are very pretty animals, and are gentle and playful in captivity; a single young one is produced at a birth, which the mother carries about for a long time, concealed in her long hair or coiled round her body, tending it with great care. The largest species is the indri (lichanotus brevicaudatus, Illig.), about the size of a large cat, the tail being a mere rudiment; the dental formula is: incisors 2/1-2/1 canines 1/1-1/1, molars 5/5-5/5=30; the color is black, with white throat, buttocks, and heels; they are tamed by the natives of Madagascar, and being very agile are trained like dogs for the chase. - The genus lemur (Linn.) has incisors 4/4, canines 1/1-/1, and molars 6/6-6/6=36; the eyes are lateral; the tail long and hairy throughout. The ring-tailed lemur (L. catta, Linn.) is one of the most elegant species, of a delicate gray color, ruddy on the back, white below and on the cheeks, and the tail ringed with black and white; it is about 19 in. long, of which the tail is 7; it is a gentle and confiding animal, and received its specific name from its occasionally making a sound like the purring of a cat; a common name is mococo. The vari (L. macaco, Linn.) is varied by large white and black spots.
The red lemur (L. ruber, Peron) is of a reddish chestnut color, with head, fore hands, tail, and belly black, and a white spot on the nape, being one of the few animals in which the lower parts are darker colored than the upper; it is easily tamed, gentle, agile, but sleepy during the day; the body is about 13 in. and the tail about 1 1/2 ft. long. The name of mongous is popularly applied to all lemurs of an olive-brown color; the term maki is also synonymous with lemur, most of the species living in Madagascar. The genus stenops (Illig.), comprising the slow lemurs, will be noticed under Lori, the common name. - The African lemurs or galagos (otolicnns, Illig.) have the nails and teeth of the preceding genus, but the tarsi are elongated, the ears large and naked, the eyes large, and the tail long and tufted; they are insectivorous and frugivorous, nocturnal, and as agile as monkeys or squirrels, making great jumps; when sleeping they are said to close the ears like bats; the flesh is eaten by the natives of Senegal. The 0. galago (Wagn.) is about 7 in. long, and the tail about 9; it is of a grayish color, pale yellow on the legs, and the tail brown.
The dwarf lemur (0. [micro-cebus] pusillus, Geoffr.), with more hairy ears, facial whiskers, and broader upper incisors, sometimes called the Madagascar rat, is 10 or 11 in. long and 6 in. high; the color is grayish fawn above and white below. In the genus tarsius (Storr) there are only two lower incisors, and the molars have several acute tubercles like the insectivora; the eyes are very large, the ears ample and somewhat naked, the tarsus much elongated, and the tail much longer than the body and tufted at the tip. The spectral lemur (T. spectrum, Geoffr.) is of a grayish brown color, living in the forests of the Indian archipelago, its long tarsi enabling it to leap like a frog; the size is small. - The lemurs are very interesting as supplying transition forms between monkeys, bats, insectivora, and rodents.
Ling-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta).
Spectral Lemur (Tarsius spectrum).