The ocean currents were shown to be even stronger than today, which would have pushed a raft along faster, shortening the trip to 30 days or less—short enough for a small mammal to survive easily.As the continental plates drifted northward, the currents gradually changed, and by 20 mya the window for oceanic dispersal had closed, effectively isolating the lemurs and the rest of the terrestrial Malagasy fauna from mainland Africa.However, 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 conservation efforts.He included three species under the genus Lemur: Lemur tardigradus (the red slender loris, now known as Loris tardigradus), Lemur catta (the ring-tailed lemur), and Lemur volans (the Philippine colugo, now known as Cynocephalus volans).Lemures dixi hos, quod noctu imprimis obambulant, hominibus quodanmodo similes, & lento passu vagantur.Lemurs are generally the most social of the strepsirrhine primates and communicate more with scents and vocalizations than with visual signals.Many lemur adaptations are in response to Madagascar's highly seasonal environment.
Until shortly after humans arrived on the island around 2,000 years ago, there were lemurs as large as a male gorilla.
As with other strepsirrhine primates, such as lorises, pottos, and galagos (bush babies), lemurs share resemblance with basal primates.
In this regard, lemurs are often confused with ancestral primates, when in actuality, lemurs did not give rise to monkeys and apes, but evolved independently.
Today, there are nearly 100 species of lemurs, and most of those species have been discovered or promoted to full species status since the 1990s; however, lemur taxonomic classification is controversial and depends on which species concept is used.
Even the higher-level taxonomy is disputed, with some experts preferring to place most lemurs within the infraorder Lemuriformes, while others prefer Lemuriformes to contain all living strepsirrhines, placing all lemurs in the superfamily Lemuroidea and all lorises and galagos in the superfamily Lorisoidea.