Pretty Lemur

Was the leafy green diet invented by. . . lemurs?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Tasty fruit grows on Madagascar, where lemurs roam. Yet, their diets are far less fruity than other primate diets – they prefer their leafy greens. This LEAVES scientists baffled. Why do our leaf lovin’ lemur cousins opt for salad over fruit? Oxford Brookes University’s Giuseppe Donati and an international team investigated.

They thought something about the fruit must be different. Problematic fruit would have prevented lemurs from becoming frugivores – fruit eaters.

The team analyzed new and existing data from seventy-nine studies. Over sixty primate habitats across the world were included. They compared total numbers of fruit-eating species, amount of fruit eaten, and the fruit’s nitrogen concentration.

Results? The fruit on Madagascar has LESS nitrogen than fruit elsewhere. We primates need nitrogen to build proteins. So, it seems our clever lemur cousins found a better way to stock up. There’s plenty of nitrogen in the leaves. Mystery solved!

I guess that LEAVES me to bring the fruit salad to the next family reunion…