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Blue-eyed Black Lemur (Eulemur flavifrons) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Body Measurements from Randriatahina and Roeder 2013; Schwitzer et al. 2013; Terranova and Coffman 1997

Attribute Male & Female
Body Weight 1.61-2.19 kg (3.6-4.8 lb)
Head and Body Length 39-45 cm (1.3-1.5 ft)
Tail Length 51-65 cm (1.7-2.1 ft)

General Appearance

Body shape (from Mittermeier et al. 2010 unless otherwise noted)

  • Medium-sized lemur
  • Head
    • Elongated, fox-like; as with other members of the family (Hill 1953)
  • Limbs
    • Arms slightly shorter than legs (Hill 1953; Schwitzer et al. 2013)
  • Tail
    • Long and bushy (Hill 1953)
    • Carried erect, with a slight sigmoid (S-shaped) curve, often (Hill 1953)

Facial characteristics (from Mittermeier et al. 2010 unless otherwise noted)

  • Face
    • Hairy (Elliot 1913)
  • Muzzle
    • Slender
    • Covered with short, dark hairs (Hill 1953; Mittermeier et al. 2010)
      • Black in male
      • Black to slate-gray in females
    • Nose pad and lips naked (Elliot 1913)
  • Eyes
    • Large (Hill 1953)
    • Blue to blue-gray or greenish blue in both sexes (Elliot 1913; Mittermeier et al. 2010)
      • Only non-human primate with blue eyes
  • Ears
    • Naked (Elliot 1913)
    • Lack tufts of hair, as seen in black lemurs (Eulemur macaco)

Adult pelage

  • High degree of variation between the sexes (see Sexual Dimorphism, below)

Teeth (from Hill 1953 unless otherwise noted)

  • 36 in total (Schwitzer et al. 2013)
  • Upper canines
    • Very long
    • Sharp-edged
  • Lower incisors
    • Tall and slender, separated by narrow gaps
      • Form a “toothcomb”, as with other lemurs (Schwitzer et al. 2013)
        • Aids in grooming and feeding (Cuozzo and Yamashita 2006)

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexes exhibit different coat colors (from Mittermeier et al. 2010 unless otherwise noted)

  • Male
    • Overall black appearance
      • Brown tinge apparent in some
        • More distinct on the ventral body surface (Koenders et al. 1985)
      • Noticeable crest of hair on the forehead
    • Hands and feet black
  • Female
    • Body hair
      • Back golden-orange to reddish-tan (Schwitzer et al. 2013)
        • Darkest along the mid-line of the back; becoming gradually lighter toward the belly (Koenders et al. 1985)
      • Belly creamy-white to gray
    • Hands and feet not black
      • Darker (gray) appearance than the dorsal (back) body hair

Sexes similar in size

  • Body mass of males and females appears similar (Terranova and Coffman 1997)

Adaptations

Adaptations for grooming

  • Tooth comb (Schwitzer et al. 2013)
    • Tall, slender incisors separated with narrow gaps
    • Projects forward and slightly upward
    • Aids in grooming and feeding (Cuozzo and Yamashita 2006)

Other Characteristics

Chromosome number

  • 22 pairs of chromosomes; 2n=44 (Koenders et al. 1985)

Lemurs with similar appearance

  • Eulemur macaco
    • Distinguishable by its tufted ears and orange colored eyes (Mittermeier et al. 2010)

Black Male & Golden-Orange Female

a male and female Blue-eyed black lemur

The appearance of males and females is quite dissimilar. The black coats of a male strikingly contrast that of a golden-orange female, as seen in the above image. This pronounced sexual dimorphism (known as dichromatism) led early scientists to mistakenly place assign the two sexes as separate species.

Image credit: © D Haring/Duke Lemur Center. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission from the artist.

Page Citations

Cuozzo and Yamashita (2006)
Elliot (1913)
Hill (1953)
Koenders et al. (1985)
Mittermeier et al. (2010)
Randriatahina and Roeder (2013)
Schwitzer et al. (2013)
Terranova and Coffman (1997)

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