Cannibalism Seen in Gray Mouse Lemurs
by Charles Q. Choi
The gray mouse lemur has something in common with us—and it’s not something good. Researchers trekking through the forests of western Madagascar looking for a radio-tagged female of the species (Microcebus murinus) have found a male dining on her flesh (shown above). The cause of the female’s death is a mystery, since all of her vital organs were missing.
This lemur was not previously known to eat other mammals, much less practice cannibalism. What’s more, although cannibalism has been observed in a variety of primates, including chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, several monkeys, and perhaps even gorillas, all known victims of such cannibals have been infants or juveniles. Except, that is, in humans.
The findings, reported in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Primatology, suggest that nonhuman primate cannibalism is not limited to infants and juveniles. At the very least, the menu of the gray mouse lemur—one of the world’s smallest primate species—is much larger than previously thought.
(via: Science NOW) (image: Anni Hämäläinen)
June 14, 2012
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