Goodman’s Mouse Lemur

Aye Aye Captain

Earlier this year (Adventure News Feb-Mar 05) we brought you the news of Dr Steve Goodman making new discoveries in the wilds of Madagascar. The "good" doctor has again struck ecological gold with the discovery of yet two more species of lemur not, as you might expect, in some hidden corner of the mysterious island continent, but in one of the most studied regions of the land. The current tally of known lemur species is now forty-nine.

Discovered too late to feature in a role in the children's movie, Madagascar, the two new species of lemur are comparatively tiny new primates. The first, Microcebus lehilahytsara, is named after Dr Steve from the Malagasy word for "good man". The other, Mirza zaza, is from the Malagasy word for child and is named as such to remind the children of Madagascar to preserve their incredibly fragile environment already on the verge of collapse through rampant deforestation.

Also in April this year, the Bristol Zoo, where John Cleese first met his beloved Ring Tailed Lemurs, announced the arrival of their newborn Aye Aye. A highly specialised lemur characterised by its enormous ears and ridiculously extended middle finger adapted to extract bugs from under the tough bark of Madagascar's thorny trees.

Sent in search of the peculiar beast for the television documentary Last Chance to See, the late Douglas Adams, author of Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy finally found one spirited away in the Malagasy forest. Staring at the ungainly animal, he described it thus:

"[The aye-aye] looks a little like a large cat with a bat's ears, a beaver's teeth, a tail like a large ostrich feather, a middle finger like a long dead twig and enormous eyes that seem to peer past you into a totally different world which exists just over your left shoulder."