Sloth Lemurs – giants that slowly lumbered away

Sloth Lemur
By Smokeybjb - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The sloth lemurs of the family Palaeopropithecidae,  are part of an extinct lemurid clan. The common name is misleading, as these members also known in Malagasy legends as tretretretre, were not closely related to sloths, but instead to lemurs, particularly close to the Indri. There were three known species, Palaeopropithecus ingens, P. maximus, and P. kelyus. Of which the first was around the longest.

They are called ‘‘sloth lemurs’’ because of remarkable behavioral and skeletal similarities with South American sloths. They had long curved digits to their limbs, an elongated body and were good hangers on trees, very much like sloths. They also ate fruits, leaves and seed. However, the hands and feet show significant differences. Sloths possess long, curved claws, while sloth lemurs have short, flat nails on their paws.

Sloth lemurs, besides surviving in legend are said to have lived as late as the 1500’s although there is also evidence that they were hunted by humans too. There is also some evidence that changing climate over the past thousand years also contributed to the habitat decline. The people of Madagascar have been clearing forest by burning for a long time so hunting combined with habitat destruction would probably have accounted for the end of these curious creatures.

Sloth Lemur

About mammal 44 Articles
I blog about mammals and all the interesting and fun-filled facts about them will be welcome additions to this blog.

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