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Due to Madagascar's highly seasonal climate, lemur evolution has produced a level of species diversity rivaling that of any other primate group.Until shortly after humans arrived on the island around 2,000 years ago, there were lemurs as large as a male gorilla.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 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.
Research facilities like the Duke Lemur Center have provided research opportunities under more controlled settings.
Lemurs are important for research because their mix of ancestral characteristics and traits shared with anthropoid primates can yield insights on primate and human evolution.
In this regard, lemurs are popularly confused with ancestral primates; however, lemurs did not give rise to monkeys and apes (simians).