Lemurs are strepsirrhine primates found only on the island of
Madagascar. They are named after the lemures (ghosts or spirits) of
Roman mythology due to the ghostly vocalizations, reflective eyes, and
the nocturnal habits of some species. Although lemurs often are
confused with ancestral primates, the anthropoid primates (monkeys,
apes, and humans) did not evolve from them. Their brain-to-body size
ratio is smaller than that of anthropoid primates, and among many other
traits they share with other strepsirrhine primates, they have a "wet
nose" (rhinarium). Lemurs arrived in Madagascar around 62 to 65 mya by
rafting on mats of vegetation at a time when ocean currents favored
oceanic dispersal to the island. Since that time, lemurs have evolved
to cope with an extremely seasonal environment and their adaptations
give them a level of diversity that rivals that of all other primate
groups. Until shortly after humans arrived on the island around 2,000
years ago, there were lemurs as large as a male gorilla. Today, there
are nearly 100 species of lemurs, however, lemur taxonomic
classification is controversial. Many lemur species are threatened with
extinction due to habitat loss and hunting. Although local traditions
generally help protect lemurs and their forests, illegal logging,
widespread poverty, and political instability hinder and undermine
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Today's selected anniversaries:
William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England at
Westminster Abbey, completing the Norman Conquest, the last successful
foreign conquest of England.
Captain William Mynors of the East India Company vessel, the Royal
Mary, landed at an uninhabited island and named it Christmas Island.
The Vietnamese Nationalist Party, a revolutionary socialist political
party that sought independence from French colonial rule in Vietnam,
was formed in Hanoi.
Romanian Revolution: Dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife Elena were
condemned to death and executed under a wide range of charges.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that officially
established a new National Anthem of Russia (listen at right), with
music adopted from the anthem of the Soviet Union that was composed by
Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov.
Wiktionary's word of the day:
Belief in an earthly thousand-year period of peace and prosperity,
sometimes equated with the return of Jesus for that period
Wikiquote quote of the day:
How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis
easier to keep holidays than commandments.
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