Consumption of cyanogenic bamboo by a newly discovered species of bamboo lemur


Three species of bamboo‐eating lemurs were found to be sympatric in the southeastern rain forests of Madagascar. Sympatric species generally differ in habitat utilization or diet, but these three closely related bamboo lemurs lived in the same habitat and all ate bamboo. Behavioral observation revealed that they did select different parts of the bamboo, and chemical analyses confirmed that there was a difference in the secondary compound content present in those selections. The growing tips of Cephalostachyum ef uiguieri selected by the golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemuraureus) contained 15 mg of cyanide per 100 g fresh weight bamboo while the leaves of C. perrieri selected by the gentle bamboo lemur (H. griseus)and the mature culms of C. cf uiguieri selected by the greater bamboolemur (H. simus) did not contain cyanide. Since each individual golden bamboo lemur ate about 500 g of bamboo per day, they daily ingestedabout 12 times the lethal dose of cyanide. The mechanism by which this small primate avoids the acute and chronic symptoms of cyanide poisioning is unknown. Copyright © 1989 Wiley‐Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company






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Publication Info

Glander, Kenneth E, Patricia C Wright, David S Seigler, Voara Randrianasolo and Bodovololona Randrianasolo (1989). Consumption of cyanogenic bamboo by a newly discovered species of bamboo lemur. American Journal of Primatology, 19(2). pp. 119–124. 10.1002/ajp.1350190205 Retrieved from

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Kenneth Earl Glander

Professor Emeritus of Evolutionary Anthropology

Primate ecology and social organization: the interaction between feeding patterns and social structure; evolutionary development of optimal group size and composition; factors affecting short and long-term demographic changes in stable groups; primate use of regenerating forests.

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