Gray Mouse Lemur (Microcebus murinus). Photo by Rhett A. Butler 2009.
New research supports the long-held belief that Madagascar’s mammals populated the island by rafting on clumps of vegetation across the Mozambique channel. Most of Madagascar’s native mammal families are capable of either flight (bats) or long periods of dormancy (lemurs, tenrecs, mongoose-like carnivores, and rodents) during which they lower their metabolism and/live of stored fat reserves. Madagascar’s hippos, now extinct at the hands of man, were semi-aquatic and likely able to raft across the channel.