infraorder of mammals

Lemuriformes are an infraorder of Primates. It combines the lemurs of Madagascar, with the galagos and lorises of Africa and Asia.

A sample of lemuriform diversity.
from top, left to right:
Lemur, Propithecus, Daubentonia, Varecia, Microcebus, Nycticebus, Loris, Otolemur.
Scientific classification


A galago
A loris

The lorises and lemurs are a monophyletic clade.[1][2][3] However, a popular alternative taxonomy puts the lorises in their own infraorder, the Lorisiformes.[4]

Evolutionary history


Lemuriform origins are unclear and debated. The main problem is a lack of clear transitional fossils.[5]

Molecular clock estimates suggest that lemurs and the lorisoids diverged in Africa during the Paleocene, about 62 mya. Between 47 and 54 mya, lemurs got to Madagascar by rafting.[6] In isolation, the lemurs diversified and filled the niches often filled by monkeys and apes today.[7]

In Africa, the lorises and galagos diverged during the Eocene, about 40 mya.[6] Unlike the lemurs in Madagascar, they have had to compete with monkeys and apes, as well as other mammals.[4]



Because the skeletons of adapiforms share strong similarities with those of lemurs and lorises, researchers have often referred to them as "primitive" strepsirrhines,[5] lemur ancestors, or a sister group to the living strepsirrhines. They are included in Strepsirrhini,[6] and are considered basal members of the clade.[8]

Although their status as true primates is not questioned, their relationship with other primates in Strepsirrhini is unclear. Sometimes they are put in their own infraorder; sometimes they are sometimes reduced to families in the Lemuriformes.[5]


  1. Szalay F.S. & Delson E. 1980. Evolutionary history of the primates. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0126801507
  2. Cartmill M. 2010. Primate classification and diversity. In Platt M. & Ghazanfar A. Primate neuroethology. Oxford University Press, pp. 10–30. ISBN 978-0-19-532659-8
  3. Sussman R.W. 2003. Primate ecology and social structure. Pearson Custom Publishing. ISBN 978-0-536-74363-3
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hartwig W. 2011. Chapter 3: Primate evolution. In Campbell C.J. et al (eds) Primates in perspective. 2nd ed, Oxford University Press. pp. 19–31. ISBN 978-0-19-539043-8
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Rose K.D. 2006. The beginning of the age of mammals. Johns Hopkins University Press, p179–181. ISBN 978-0-8018-8472-6
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Vaughan T; Ryan J. & Czaplewski N. 2011. Chapter 12: Primates. In Mammalogy. 5th ed, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 169–179. ISBN 978-0-7637-6299-5
  7. Cartmill M. & Smith F.H. 2011. The human lineage. John Wiley, p89. ISBN 978-1-118-21145-8
  8. Covert H.H. 2002. Chapter 3: The earliest fossil primates and the evolution of prosimians: Introduction. In Hartwig W.C (ed) The primate fossil record. Cambridge University Press, p18. ISBN 978-0-521-66315-1