Lemurs rafting to Madagascar

According to recently published research, lemurs are said to have first colonized Madagascar in several waves before 50 million years ago when the ocean currents in the Indian Ocean between the island and the African mainland were favorable. It said that it would have taken 25-30 days with favorable winds, and that lemurs rafted on pieces of wood, i.e. logs.

I don’t know how long lemurs can survive without fresh water, but I suppose that it is not too much longer than that of humans (around 3 days? I tried Googling it, but it’s such a specific question that I couldn’t find it). It’s a stretch, but they could eat a portion of their raft, as wood is mostly fresh water…

Furthermore, there would have to be more than one lemur that makes it across within the breeding age of another lemur, with the additional requirement that there be at least one of each sex within that same breeding age (or at least one of each sex of lemurs goes together on the raft, or a pregnant lemur makes it across and mates with its own male child…sorry…)

I’m rather skeptical of a lemur being able to survive this trip, mostly because of the water issue if I’m correct in the assumption that lemurs cannot drink seawater and that the raft it could potentially be transported by, if made of wood, has enough water in it to sustain the lemur’s water needs.

Here’s the source (peer reviewed): http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100119HuberMadagascar.html

What do you think of the survivability of the lemur(s) on this rafting journey, of which the affirmative is necessary to support the hypothesis of the author?

It depends what is really meant by ‘raft’. A lemur on a log isn’t likely to survive a long ocean voyage, but if the raft is a huge tangle of matted timber, turf and vegetation, it’s a different prospect.

And it’s probably not right to think of it as a single family of lemurs on a raft, but maybe dozens or hundreds of such rafts being washed out of the mouth of a river during some major flood event, and the majority of the occupants of those rafts not making a successful crossing.

Madagascar? That’s nothing. There’s a theory that monkeys arrived in South America on rafts from Africa.

Myabe if they had assistance from penguins…

If it were during an ice age the distance would have been considerably shorter due to lower water levels.

South America and Africa were very much closer 40 million years ago.

That would make a decent movie concept!

So was Africa and Madagascar, and India and Madagascar.

Tsunami Debris from Japan is now washing up on Canadian/U.S. shores carrying large amounts of marine animals and plants. It is quite amazing the diversity seen.

So I imagine that if several trees were washed out to see together with some green leaves/fruit still attached, a group of lemurs would have little problem surviving for a couple of days. Fresh water may be a problem, but food good provide some or enough water.

This. Imagine a monsoon rain, or a hurricane, causing a hillside of trees to wash into the ocean. Land slides happen often under heavy rain, this is where most driftwood comes from.

The lemurs are just going along for the ride. And if they are floating along during the rainy season they can get plenty of fresh water as it pools in spots on the raft or even by licking leaves, or themselves, as the rain falls.

Here’s a video of small islands with trees that were dislodged during flooding on the River Chagres in December 2010 drifting downstream. If the bridge (and Panama Canal locks) weren’t there, they would probably reach the ocean like that.

The Chagres is tiny compared to the Amazon. The Amazon spits out enormous rafts of trees and other vegetation at times. It is large rafts like this that probably account for primates and rodents reaching South America from Africa in the Oligocene, and lemurs and other species reaching Madagascar. Ancestral lemurs might have been quite small, like mouse lemurs, and been able to find food and water on rafts like these.