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Three New Species of Mouse Lemurs Discovered

Microcebus ganzhorni, a new species of mouse lemurs discovered by scientists at UK, the German Primate Center and Duke Lemur Center. Photo by Giuseppe Donati.

Primate researchers say they’ve discovered three new species of mouse lemurs.

These tiny primates are unique to Madagascar, some measure a mere six centimeters in length.

They were discovered by researchers from the University of Kentucky and expand the ever-growing list of new lemur species on the island.

A mere two decades ago, there were only two species of mouse lemurs known, but now there are 24.

"We didn't go into this work looking for a new species, but there was no real way to get around the fact that there are three new species here to describe," said Scott Hotaling, lead author on the Molecular Ecology paper and a PhD candidate in the UK Department of Biology.

One of the new species Microcebus ganzhorni, was named to honor Jörg Ganzhorn a famed ecologist who researches lemurs, the other two Microcebus manitatra and Microcebus boraha highlight the areas where the new species were found.

Lemurs in general are facing increasing human encroachment on their habitat, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature saying 94 percent of lemurs are facing extinction.

Overall, there are 101 species of the small primates with 22 listed as “critically endangered,” 48 listed as “endangered” and 20 as “vulnerable.”