That would be a lemur that CI President Russ Mittermeier tracked down on a recent trip to Madagascar.
This “fork-marked” lemur is characterized by a black, Y-shaped stripe that starts above each eye. It has a whiskered snout and bright, beady eyes. And while we can’t be sure until genetic testing is complete, unique behaviors (like a curious nocturnal head-nodding) and a distinct color pattern suggest that this particular lemur is a member of a new species. (It likely belongs to the genus Phaner, which currently comprises four known species.)
It seems amazing that an animal the size of a squirrel could go unnoticed by science for so long. But that’s the world, isn’t it? There’s so much we just don’t know about it.
At CI, our scientists work every day to fill these gaps. We want to understand why, and how, the environment is changing. In fact, we need to know — so that we can be sure that our supporters’ dollars can have the greatest impact.
These creatures aren’t just fascinating, exciting examples of the Earth’s natural bounty (though, judging by the “awwws” and “ohhhs” you hear in the CI offices whenever we find new ones, they are certainly that). They’re also bellwethers of ecosystem health. When we find new species, it gives us hope — hope that the world’s ecosystems will continue to support the humans who rely on them for food, fresh water, clean air, a stable climate, and more.
We don’t usually do this on the CI blog. But it would be really great if you could, just today, consider a donation to CI to help us with this kind of work — not to mention all of our other conservation efforts around the world. Your donation will make a difference for people the world over.
This month, a member of our board of directors has made a generous gift of $1 million, which we’ll use to support our work. Now, we’re challenging CI’s closest supporters to match that gift. From now until the end of the year, every donation we receive from supporters like you, up to $1 million, will count toward this challenge.
If you can, please donate to CI this holiday season. If you can’t, we’re still thankful for your support. And either way, here’s wishing you a happy holiday — and hope for conservation success in 2011.