The unique pattern of dots for each lemur’s lice.
Hey lemur, sit down right here. I’ve got my bottle of nail polish—oh no no, don’t need your hands, let’s look at your ears instead. While we’re at it, can you show me the lice on your eyelids and testes too?
Just another day in the life of a lemur biologist. The brown mouse lemur of Madagascar is a five-inch-long primate that sleeps in tree-holes all day and only comes out after dark. To study their social interactions, scientists had to get crafty with toothpicks and a few bottles of nail polish. They trapped 23 male and 9 female lemurs, finding and tagging the lice on each of them with a unique pattern of nail polish dots.
Branson’s plan to save lemurs is turning heads.
If you build Madagascar’s lemurs a new home, will they come? And can you trust them not to trash the place?
Sir Richard Branson, private moon shot funder, Virgin Group kingpin, kooky billionaire du jour, has been turning heads with his announcement that he plans to import 30 ring-tailed lemurs from zoos to one of his privately owned islands in the British Virgin Islands. The idea is to give endangered or threatened species a new place to live and breed—Madagascar’s civil war has meant a resurgence in lemur habitat loss, and ring-taileds are listed as “near threatened”—but biologists and conservationists are pointing out how Branson could be doing the island’s native ecosystem a serious disservice. “It’s pretty weird,” Simon Stuart, chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission, told the BBC. “What else lives on the island, and how might they be affected?”