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Lemurs identify each other through 'moonlight singing'

Written by: Staff

Washington, May 7 : You might use your singing skills to grab the attention for your loved one, but in case of lemurs the same kind of crooning is used for a bit different task - finding a mate of their own species.

Some of the Malagasy mouse lemurs are so similar that it becomes difficult for them to find mates of their own species, especially at nighttime in a tropical forest.

Therefore, according to a new research in BioMed Central's journal BMC Biology, our desperately cute distant cousins use vocalisations to pick up a partner of the right species.

Until recently, gray, golden brown, and Goodman's mouse lemurs were all thought to be the same species.

But genetic testing revealed that they are, in fact, three distinct species so similar that they cannot be told apart by their appearance-so called cryptic species.

"A fundamental problem for cryptic species that live in the same area and habitat is the coordination of reproduction and discrimination between potential mates of the same species and remarkably similar individuals of other species" said Pia Braune and colleagues from the Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover University.

Males of these nocturnal species use advertising calls to let females know that they are looking for love.

In the research, the scientists recorded advertising calls from the three species and then played them back to gray mouse lemurs, noting what response, if any, they made.

"Grey mouse lemurs reacted more to calls from other gray mouse lemurs than to those of either other species", the researchers said.

Furthermore, the gray mouse lemurs seemed to ignore the calls of golden brown mouse lemurs, which live in the same area and habitat to them, but show some interest in the calls of Goodman's mouse lemur, which they would never normally meet.

"The importance of vocalisation in attracting mates is well known for frogs and birds, but this is the first evidence for species-specific call divergence in the communication of cryptic primate species with overlapping ranges," the team added.


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