Tetrapod Zoology

One-eyed indri


For no particular reason, I was looking through Mary’s lemur photos. I saw these and thought them particularly interesting: they show a male Indri Indri indri bark-eating. What makes this individual unusual is that he was missing his left eye (or, at least, had a very damaged left eye). I don’t know why and don’t know if Mary does either.


As you’ll know, indris are the largest extant lemurs, reaching 720 mm in maximum length (snout to tail) and weighing up to 7.5 kg. That’s big, but it doesn’t approach the sizes reached by some of the extinct species, the biggest of which exceeded 200 kg. Indris are pretty variable in colour, and the neatly marked black-and-white individuals you often see on TV are not typical of the species across its range: those are southern animals. Those in the north lack distinct white patches on the limbs and back and may have a pale facial disc. Of course, the present range of indris is very restricted compared to their historical range: today they occur only in the central-eastern and north-eastern rainforests, but fossils show they previously occurred right in the north and as far south as the central highlands at least (Garbutt 1999).

For previous Tet Zoo musings on lemurs, there was a brief discussion on new woolly lemurs and sportive lemurs here. Yikes, that’s about it. No no, wait… there’s the sifaka stuff here on ver 1 and a brief mention of the Alaotra lemur here.

Refs – –

Garbutt, N. 1999. Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Mountfield.


  1. #1 Neil
    September 14, 2008

    Poor thing. It almost looks like it has a small left eye in the second photo

  2. #2 Mike Keesey
    September 14, 2008

    He’s strong to the finich.

  3. #3 Mary Blanchard
    September 15, 2008

    Unfortunately I have no idea why the male indri was missing an eye – and it did seem that the eye was completely missing when viewed through binoculars. When I worked at Beza many ring-tails were missing an eye and the general opinion is that they were lost to branches in falls. I never saw any of the indri miss a leap, but it must happen. Whatever the cause, it didn’t appear to affect his ability to move around the forest.

    Also you have the pelage colour gradient the wrong way round; indri in the south of their geographic range have more white than those in the north; indri in Mananara-Nord NP are almost all black. There is a fair amount of local variation, and in Mantadia where I worked (southern part of their range) you had both the typical ‘white-headed’ individuals as well as darker ‘black-headed’ individuals such as the group I studied. They are very interesting animals and their ‘singing duets’ are incredible.

  4. #4 Darren Naish
    September 15, 2008

    Many thanks for that Mary. Thanks for the correction re: colour differences, I’ll go correct it. Oops.

  5. #5 wilbert
    September 15, 2008

    Lemurs are amazing, beautiful and gentle animals.
    One of the saddest pictures I’ve ever seen in my life was in the book “mammals of Madagascar” of Nick Garbutt where two terrified indri’s were kept in a enclosure for the ‘pot’.

  6. #6 carel
    September 15, 2008

    …the neatly marked black-and-white individuals you often see on TV are not typical of the species across its range…
    They ARE, however, typical of the population at Perinet, where they’re habituated to people and easy to get great photographs of.

  7. #7 Sordes
    September 17, 2008

    Giant lemurs, some of my all-time favourites among recently extinct mammals…I hope you will blog about them one time. Something I wanted to add is that I would be a bit careful about the size of the giant lemurs (I found recently a paper about a size-reduction of “giant” lemurs, but it was not for free, so I donīt know the details). If I look at the skeletons the stated weights for Megaladapis and Palaeopropithecus seems very high, even for the largest species, and the 200kg+ estimation for Archaeoindris is also based on a very meager fossil record. At least Archaeoinrdis surely exeeded 100kg, but I have still some doubts about the 200kg+ estimates.

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