lemurs & evolution
With unparalleled levels of species endemism, Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, makes a case for being the eighth continent. It is an extraordinary pot of convergent evolution where over the last 80 million years everything there has evolved with little interference. Consequently, the diversity among the one hundred plus species of lemurs is astounding, from the haunting call of the giant indri to the acrobatics of the sifakas and don’t forget the puzzling aye-aye, the world’s largest nocturnal primate.
Needless to say there is more to Madagascar than lemurs and, with a staggering array of chameleons, butterflies, orchids, baobabs and birds, rainforests and tropical beaches, the island is a treasure trove for those raised on Gerald Durrell.
Following the evolutionary trail closer to home; whilst the jury is still out as to exactly where and when, it is clear that Africa is home to our earliest ancestors. For those interested in our first journeys then being hosted at the Turkana basin institute or camping in Sibiloi, the birthplace of Homo Habilis and perhaps human culture, is a truly wonderful look behind the scenes of our path to this date.
Similarly, exploring the cradle of humankind not far from Johannesburg with palaeontologists from the university of Wits is an equally fascinating dive into our past. The list goes on and between the Olduvai gorge in Tanzania and Ethiopia’s Afar triangle, home of Lucy; time spent in any of these sites with passionate academics puts our place on the planet into the truest perspective.