Form & Function

MMouse Lemuricrocebus murinus are one of today’s smallest known primates. Characteristics they are known for include their short limbs, large eyes, and grayish-brown fur. The tails of Microcebus murinus are on average about 14 centimeters long, while the body length is slighty shorter at an average 13 centimeters long and their weight is about 1 to 4 ounces. Microcebus are omnivorous, which means they consume both plants and other animals. The diets of Microcebus murinus consist of a variety of foods such as small vertebrates, fruit, flowers, nectar, leaves, and buds. Because their incisors and canines are long and thin, Microcebus murinus able to use their teeth to groom themselves and each other (Encyclopedia of Life 2014).
During the gray mouse lemurs' breeding season, their metabolic rates are increased. To keep up with increased metabolic demands, Microcebus murinus have adapted to nesting in groups to conserve energy expended on creating heat to maintain body temperature. When two Microcebus murinus nest together, there is a significant increase in energy conservation. When three Microcebus murinus nest together, maximum energy conservation can be achieved. During the nonbreeding season metabolic rate is lower, therefore maximum energy conservation can be achieved with just two gray mouse lemurs nesting together. The advantage to this adaptation is that it can also be utilized to conserve energy under conditions of food shortages (Perret 1998).

Mouse LemurAnother important adaptation of gray mouse lemurs is their sharp eyesight. Many primates have high visual acuity, which means their vision is sharp. Of all primates, Microcebus murinus have the smallest axial eye diameter (Ross, et al. 2007). Due to such a small axial eye diameter, Microcebus murinus do not have a wide field of vision, but they can focus very well on small and distant objects. This adaptation was likely derived under the circumstances that nocturnal lemurs need to focus in low light conditions while they search for food at night. Visual acuity is higher in Microcebus murinus than in any other mammal species, making them masterly nocturnal creatures (Veilleux, et al. 2009).

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