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14 Leapin’ Lemurs!  A look at lemur twins

Ring-tailed lemurs often produce twins in zoos but rarely do in the wild, possibly due to their limited resources and the presence of predators. In zoos, where food is plentiful and safety is almost always guaranteed, this species of lemur often gives birth to twins. Since population biologists are interested in keeping the gene pool in zoos diverse and healthy, it is important to determine if these twins are identical, from a single egg and genetically the same, or fraternal, from two separate eggs and, therefore, genetically different.  In this activity, you will analyze DNA by looking for patterns and comparing resulting genotypes to determine if you are an identical or fraternal twin.

A note about this species…

Ring-tailed lemurs are a prosimian, a type of primate, from the island of Madagascar which is located off the East coast of Africa. Lemurs are endemic to Madagascar, meaning they live nowhere else. They earn their common name from their easily recognizable erect tail that is covered in alternating white and black bands. They live in large groups that are female dominated, a system common among almost all lemurs. They typically weigh about five pounds and, with their long tail, measure about thirty-six inches long. These lemurs are diurnal. Though mainly arboreal, they are the most terrestrial of all lemurs, spending as much as 1/3 of their time on the ground. The ring-tailed lemur is also omnivorous, eating a wide range of plant materials as well as insects and other  invertebrates and the occasional vertebrate like small birds or lizards.

Ring-tailed lemurs

ACTIVITY 14 - Leapin’ Lemurs!  A look at lemur twins (pdf file)

VIDEO 14 – Zoo Genetics Section 8 Lemurs