The Lemur Underground: New Evidence for Primate Hibernation

14 May 2013 by Anne-Marie Hodge, posted in Uncategorized

From bears slumbering through the winter in their dens to frogs sinking into muddy tombs of suspended animation, a wide spectrum of animals resort to hibernation to survive until spring. Just a mention of hibernation conjures images of snow-blanketed forests and ice-covered ponds, with animals hiding out from barren, dormant wintry landscapes.

A group of small tropical primates is breaking the trend, however—recent research demonstrates that several dwarf lemurs in Madagascar undergo seasonal hibernation periods for up to eight months of the year. While it had previously been known that the western fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius) spends seven months of the year hibernating in tree holes (Dausmann et al. 2004), until recently there was no evidence for any other primate undertaking significant hibernation periods.

(Cheirogaleus crossleyi)

A recent paper in Nature’s open access journal, Scientific Reports, however, presents brand-new evidence of hibernation in two other species, the Sibree’s dwarf lemur (C. sibreei) and the Crossley’s dwarf lemur (C. crossleyi; sometimes called the furry-eared dwarf lemur), both of which occur in east-central Madagascar’s high altitude forests (Blanco et al. 2013). While it may not seem as though primates would need to hibernate on a tropical island, Madagascar’s mountainous regions can indeed experience temperatures that dip below freezing—a significant thermoregulatory challenge for a squirrel-sized primate. Thus, a  group of researchers from the University of Hamburg, the University of Antananarivo, and Duke University decided to see if the overwintering strategies of eastern dwarf lemurs resembled that of the western species.

The researchers managed to trap dwarf lemurs prior to hibernation season, and outfitted each animal with a collar that featured both a radio transmitter and a temperature sensor. The collars allowed the animals to be located after they had retreated to their hibernacula, in addition to tracking fluctuations in body temperature while the lemurs were hibernating.

The results were surprising and fascinating. Not only do these tropical lemurs hibernate for 3-6 months out of the year, the arboreal primates actually spend their hibernation underground, despite their lack of adaptations for a fossorial lifestyle. The lemurs nestled 10-40 cm beneath a the forest’s floor of secondary roots and humus, no small feat for an animal that gives every appearance of a life optimized for the treetops. Each lemur denned up alone, and they used just one or two hibernacula sites per season.

From Blanco et al. (2013)

This underground hibernation habit is extremely interesting; the other lemur species known to hibernate, C. medius, uses tree hollows exclusively. The researchers suggest that this difference in hibernation sites could be partially due to constraints imposed by soil type: soil in C. medius’ habitat is hard and dry, unlike the soft soils of the eastern forests.  Another significance of the findings about hibernacula choice is that the eastern species use tree hollows for their normal resting periods during the non-hibernation season, meaning that hibernation is an event with a very specific site selection pattern, rather than just an extended rest in their usual shelters.

Temperature data from the collars showed that C. sibreei and C. crossleyi tend to keep their body temperatures more stable while hibernating than does C. medius, which may highlight another advantage of subterranean hibernation. Soil provides more resistance to ambient temperature fluctuations than hollow trees, meaning that the eastern species are better insulated during their long rest than their western relative.

A final noteworthy aspect of this study is that C. sibreei and C. crossleyi are basal species within their branch of the lemur phylogeny. This raises the question of whether their hibernation patterns may be an ancestral condition for dwarf lemurs. Further studies on other species and populations will provide further insights into just how widespread these behaviors are among upland lemur species, in addition to yielding discoveries about how these small tropical mammals have adapted their metabolic physiology to achieve such long stretches of dormancy.




Blanco, M., Dausmann, K., Ranaivoarisoa, J., & Yoder, A. (2013). Underground hibernation in a primate Scientific Reports, 3 DOI: 10.1038/srep01768

Dausmann, K.H., Glos, J., Ganzhorn, J.U., Heldmaier, G. (2004). Hibernation in a tropical primate. Nature 429, 825-826.


Image source:

45 Responses to “The Lemur Underground: New Evidence for Primate Hibernation”

  1. home warranty texas Reply | Permalink

    We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work.

  2. satta matka Reply | Permalink

    Get Perfect guessing of Satta Matka, Satta Matka Result, Kalyan Matka Tips. 100% Reliable tips. Matka Chart, Matka Result

  3. Sumit Thakur Reply | Permalink

    I like the way you are spreading these information here. It feels good when someone put so much efforts in doing some great stuff.

  4. Rahul Dhiman Reply | Permalink

    this the best and engaging way to tell an interesting story. thanks for sharing this valuable info about Lemur :)

  5. zoya Reply | Permalink

    the lemur underground so cute

  6. coupon Reply | Permalink

    In fact one of the most disgusting point you ever find

  7. Happy Holi Reply | Permalink

    Nice article is provided by you admin, thanks for this article becoze it helped me lot and below we have some stuff which our topic to write article so please checkout them.

    Happy Holi

  8. Resorts Delhi Reply | Permalink

    The resort is ideal for MICE as availability of nine conference halls full equipped with latest gadgets followed by recreation facilities and special program of stress management gives the additional support to achieve their targets. Resort is also having the scope for our future talent as we serve the things to education industry in terms of hygiene, food habit and body posture. Species of fruit flower and medicinal plants improved their knowledge. SUNRISE is the best option to enjoy weekend to all. Family functions as birthday, anniversary, ring ceremony and marriage arranging for our valuable guests as their memorable moments.

  9. Jim Corbett reosrts Reply | Permalink

    Moreover the reason to visit the resort to explore the suitable option to make you happ and satisfied. Match your requirement is our motto in which we are proud to announce that we are 100% successful to serve you the same.

  10. Flats for Rent in Gurgaon Reply | Permalink

    from all over the globe.

    If your plan is to explore tourist destinations like Amer Fort, Jal Mahal, Jaigarh Fort, Jal mahal, Hawa Mahal & Pink City, then our resort is perfect for you. Almost 80% of all Jaipur tourist attractions are situated on eastern side of Jaipur and so is our resort.

    So just book a room at our 3 star rates hotel resort as these destinations are just 5-10 minute drive from our Parking.

  11. Juhu Escorts Service Reply | Permalink

    Call +91-9820849353 for reliable escort services in Mumbai, Juhu Escort, Bandra Escort.100% Satisfaction & Money back guarantee.

  12. atul Singh Reply | Permalink

    Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your weblog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

  13. Anjan Singh Reply | Permalink

    thanks for sharing this quality content and love it its nice and good to now recent articles.

  14. apnagovtjobs Reply | Permalink

    thanks for sharing this quality content and love it its nice and good to now recent articles.

  15. FNAF World Reply | Permalink

    This is my first time visit on your site and i have bookmark this for again visit. thanks a lot of for sharing appreciable post ...

  16. Five Nights At Freddy's Reply | Permalink

    Whoa! You really did great a good job. You must have used a magic trick. LOL. But really, the room looked neat and awesome!

  17. iphone 7 release date Reply | Permalink

    I enjoyed over read your blog post. Your blog have nice information, I got good ideas from this amazing blog. I am always searching like this type blog post. I hope I will see again.

  18. netflix Reply | Permalink

    I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style . I added it to my favorites blog site list

  19. ipl live streaming Reply | Permalink

    Hey, you did a decent Job. Now, Also Visit this Blog if you are a cricket fan and love watching Ipl live streaming then watch ipl live streaming.

  20. Sam Kkc Reply | Permalink

    Here are the one of the best article i found to read.Thanks for share this with us.I just amaze to be here and to discover this awesome post.Thanks
    Godaddy Coupons

  21. angel investors india Reply | Permalink

    Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written.will be referring a lot of friends about this.Keep blogging.

  22. happy wheels Reply | Permalink

    great post. i like it. feeling great when reading your post. Keep on posting!

  23. friv Reply | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing the information. It is very useful for my future. keep sharing. Can you play more games at :

  24. Mumbai Escort Service Reply | Permalink

    I like the way you are spreading these information here. It feels good when someone put so much efforts in doing some great stuff.

  25. Gonorrhea test near me Reply | Permalink

    It is really nice article which is now giving me so much understanding about the latest primate evidence and hibernation. Thanks

Leave a Reply

+ 3 = seven