Why do lemurs only live on the island of Madagascar?

Question from Kelly Evans

Around 160 million years ago, Madagascar broke away from Africa. Records of lemur-like primate fossils date back approximately 60 million years have been found in mainland Africa, and further records show thatthey soon made the journey to Madagascar, which continued to drift east.

Roughly 30 million years later, when monkeys made an appearance, they drove lemurs in other parts of the world towards extinction. However, the lemurs on Madagascar were isolated from predators and competition, thriving to this very day in all of Madagascar’s ecosystems. They have now evolved to be even more like their intelligent and adaptive primate monkey cousins.

Answered by Sarah Bankes for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 98.

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