10x14 watercolor enhanced colored pencil. Original unavailable and in a private collection.
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This is a *Red-ruffed Lemur*.
Lemurs are found naturally only on the island of Madagascar and some smaller surrounding islands, including the Comoros (where it is likely they were introduced by humans). Fossil evidence indicates that they made their way across the ocean after Madagascar broke away from the continent of Africa. While their ancestors were displaced in the rest of the world by monkeys, apes, and other primates, the lemurs were safe from competition on Madagascar and differentiated into a number of species. These range in size from the tiny 30 gram (1 oz) Pygmy Mouse Lemur to the 10 kilogram (22 lb) Indri. The larger species, some of which weighed up to 240 kg, have all become extinct since humans settled on Madagascar, and since the early 20th century the largest lemurs reach about 7 kilograms (15 lbs). Typically, the smaller lemurs are active at night (nocturnal), while the larger ones are active during the day (diurnal).
The small cheirogaleoids are generally omnivores, eating a variety of fruits, flowers and leaves (and sometimes nectar) as well as insects, spiders and small vertebrates. The remainder of the lemurs, the lemuroids are primarily herbivores, although some species supplement their diet with insects.
Lemurs have opposable thumbs and long grasping toes, but their tails are not prehensile. Lemurs have nails rather than claws. All lemur species have a tapetum, the reflective layer over the retina. Lemurs are thought to have limited color vision. Lemurs depend quite heavily on the sense of smell and have large nasal cavities and moist noses.
Unlike most other primates, lemur species that live in groups have a Matriarchal society (i.e. females are dominant over males). Most lemur species are primarily arboreal and traverse the canopy by vertical clinging and leaping or quadrupedalism, with the notable exception of the Ring-Tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) which spends a considerable amount of time moving about on the ground (info from Wikipedia).
* Complete 03-13-2008 in 11.19 hours spread over 7 days
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