Named By: Charles Immanuel Forsyth Major - 1894.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Primates, Strepsirrhini, Lemuriformes.
Species: M. edwardsi, M. madagascariensis, M. grandidieri.
Size: Between 1.3 and 1.5 meters long.
Known locations: Madagascar.
Time period: Holocene.
Fossil representation: Several specimens.
known to be a lemur, Megaladapis displays a
remarkable similarity to
koalas, especially in the hands which are well adapted for grasping
the vertical trunks of trees. Despite its large size, Megaladapis
is thought to have been an arboreal creature that lived off the ground
where it could casually browse upon the vegetation of the tree canopy.
However the eyes of Megaladapis were oriented to
face out to the sides
rather than direct in front and with this in mind it’s probable
that Megaladapis lacked the acute depth perception
of other primates.
This also infers a more gradual pace of life rather than the fast
paced leaping from tree top to tree top that smaller primates are
The number one explanation for the extinction of Megaladapis is human activity, particularly habitat destruction from expanses of forest being cleared by fire. Unfortunately this is still happening in parts of the world today with many types of primate becoming endangered because vast expanses of their habitats are being cleared for agriculture and the timber industry. It’s also probable that human hunting also played a factor in the demise of Megaladapis.