What's better than one newborn lemur? Answer: Three newborn lemurs.
Sriracha, a female grey mouse lemur at the Duke Lemur Center, recently gave birth to three boys. In keeping with the facility's tradition of naming their lemurs after herbs and spices, the babies will now be known as Barley, Hops, and Cholula.
These adorable balls of fluff aren't exactly tipping the scales, weighing in at only 7 grams each, which is less than the weight of three pennies. Even when they're fully grown, they'll max out around 50 grams, which is roughly the weight of a golf ball.
Take a look at the babies and try not to pass out from the cuteness:
Although they clearly have the power to make any adult melt with a single glance, this species also has an adaptation that gives them an edge when it comes to survival.
When the food supply is limited, these lemurs are able to deal with it through something called torpor. Their metabolism slows down significantly and they become mostly dormant, almost like a short-term hibernation. The ability to survive when food is scarce is a tremendous advantage; one that other lemur species would really benefit from having.
Gray mouse lemurs, like all other lemurs, are native to Madagascar. They are often hunted as bushmeat or are sold on the black market as exotic pets. The biggest threat to lemurs is habitat destruction. Madagascar is an island with slightly less land area than Texas, which doesn't give the lemurs a lot of options when they need to relocate. Nearly all lemur species are endangered, but this species is not.
However, mouse lemurs are also susceptible to conditions with similar symptoms to Alzheimer's. Understanding more about their physiology isn't limited to helping lemurs in the wild and those at Duke, but there might also be information that could help human patients suffering from dementia as well.