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Thursday, April 2, 2015

10 BEST PLACES TO LEARN ABOUT DATA VISUALIZATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS


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10 Best Places to Learn About Data Visualization For Your Business
By Merrill Cook,
Business Pundit, 31 March 2015.

Did you know that the human retina can transmit data to the brain at roughly 10 million bits a second (roughly the rate of an Ethernet connection)? That’s a lot of bandwidth, but it doesn’t get effectively used in all of your old school TPS reports. With more and more data created and at the disposal of team members of almost every level, data discovery tools and visualizations are all the rage. That’s not to say all visualizations are good (or even most of them), but a lot of them are. Check out our list of 10 of the sources of inspiration and instruction for business data visualization.

10. Good.is

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Good Magazine entered into the infographic game early in the boom around 2006, and by 2008 was named a National Magazine Award finalist for their infographic offerings. Over the years Good has focused on unique research and the presentation of visualization-driven features on social change and quality of life. Nearly all of their larger features are sponsored by large corporations, and have enjoyed great success. They bill themselves out as a “magazine for people who give a damn” and show a unique storytelling angle in data visualization that many corporations can learn from. People like soul, and while slick visualizations tend to attract a lot of attention, your visualization needs to be about topics that matter, too.

9. Jennifer Daniel at Bloomberg

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Bloomberg are known for the dashboard visualizations in their terminal, but they also throw some more innovative visualizations out there through Jennifer Daniel (their graphics director). Her visualizations have always struck me as adhering to one of the most important rules of static data visualizations: immediacy. Unless a viewer can really toggle a bunch of switches and play around with the data, you should know the point that you want the data to prove, and put it front and centre. Her graphic about what Americans don’t work is a pretty simple concept, yet shows the employment status of America in a much more clear way than a table ever could. Her (what looks like) subway-map inspired map of our underwater internet cables adheres to the same minimalism, using a few lines of colour and location labels to fully expound on the headline. If you want a lesson in simple, smooth, and crystal-clear design direction, check out more of Daniel’s work.

8. Simon Rogers at the Guardian

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While the glut of open data over the last few years has forced journalists to move into the hybrid realm of writer/hacker, a simultaneous shift in marketing has placed the journalist at the centre of what is now considered quality marketable content. In short, journalists can learn from the slick productions of corporations, and corporations can learn from journalists to get quality attention on their brand. For businesses who want to know the short of what this sort of data journalism requires, Simon Rogers, editor of the Guardian’s data blog and data store has written a piece on the basics. He also provides training for individuals, institutions, and corporate clients as seen on his personal site.

7. Data Journalism at AP

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There have been a number of innovative data visualizations presented by the Associated Press, but one of the most interesting is part of their Overview series. Through a set of tools and methods their Overview blog has released, it’s possible to take large sets of documents and map the important words that occur in those documents. The initial idea was to visualize terms from WikiLeaks documents related to 2006 in the Iraq War. The explanation and terms are particularly pertinent to your own data visualizations if you’re dealing with data sets that are much too large to read (as many FOIA request results are). For many data visualizations, your data is only as valuable as the tools you have to access the data with - a topic greatly focused on at the Associated Press Overview blog.

6. Flowing Data

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Flowing Data is home to some of the most innovative and thoughtful visualizations online as well as other more educational features like tutorials, discussions on the pros, cons, and techniques that can be used for certain types of data, and so forth. Tutorials (mostly for the data visualization library R) as well as three books on data visualization are also available. For some of the most thoroughly constructed (and beautiful) data visualizations online, and for those that aren’t tied to any one institutions agenda, you’ve got to check out Flowing Data.

5. Nicholas Felton’s Personal Annual Reports

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Nicholas Felton was one of the lead designers of Facebook’s timeline, and has since spent a number of years releasing his personal annual reports as well as developing daytum.com. His personal reports may seem trivial for business reporting, but are more an exercise in visualizing data and weaving together of disparate points into a story. The reports record everything from the number of words recorded in all of his communication mediums, to all of the songs he listened to in a year, to walks he took. All placed in innovative fashion into beautiful reports. Daytum.com is built around a similar process but for the users. Felton has created an app that helps users record their own daily data and then plot it on the site.

4. NPR Visuals Team

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NPR has been one of the leaders in newsroom data visualizations for years, largely thanks to their talented Visuals Team. Whether you’re looking for entertaining content like their Running Gags on Arrested Development graphic, or visualizations that are good in a serious sense (Live Visualizations from the 2012 Election), NPR has you covered. Their visualization team also makes many of their tools open source, as well as provides tutorials for their use for others who are interested in creating data visualizations.

3. Manuel Lima at Visual Complexity

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For what is perhaps the largest collection of truly innovative data visualizations, check out Visual Complexity, a resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex systems. While some of the visualizations are a bit more experimental, they’re at the forefront of new visualization types, and at the very least can provide your team with some ideas on how to visualize your data. The site is run by Manuel Lima, a Fellow at the National Society of Arts, and one of Creativity Magazine’s “50 most creative and influential minds of 2009.″ The Visual Complexity Book, titled Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information is also a great resource for any designer, and features almost 300 of the most innovative representations of networks as well as explanations.

2. Mike Bostock

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Mike Bostock is perhaps best known for developing D3.JS, the de facto standard for interactive data visualizations online and for which he has also provided extensive documentation, examples and tutorials. Even if your team is going to use another framework for you visualizations, there’s still plenty of inspiration to be had from the D3 documentation’s example page. Much of Bostock’s more innovative work is shown at New York Times, where he is a graphics editor. Recently he has begun exploring ways in which we can visualize not only our data but the algorithm through which our data is processed as well. With interactivity this enables users to peer into the black box of functions that created the original visualization and see how little alterations to how the data is processed can significantly alter the final visualization. A good example is Bostock’s Renting or Buying interactive graphic.

1. Proctor and Gamble’s Data Rooms

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For a business-centred application of data on a large scale, perhaps the best company to learn from is Proctor and Gamble. P&G have not only integrated large data visualization screens into “business sphere” rooms in over 50 locations where managers meet, but have also established a visual language for presenting data, so that decision makers from different branches of the company can talk to one another about what they see. Besides the room-sized wall-mounted data visualization displays, P&G have experts on hand from the Information and Decision Solutions group who can alter the visualizations at a moments notice. On a smaller, yet also visually-compelling and unified scale, P&G also has a “decisions cockpit” data platform online that over 50,000 of their employees has access to. Talk about a well informed workforce.

Top image: An example of data visualization from Gephi, the open graph visualization platform, via Mind-Mapping Blog.

[Source: Business Pundit. Edited.]

10 SOVIET VICTORIES IN THE SPACE RACE


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10 Soviet Victories in the Space Race
By Michael Johnson,
Toptenz, 31 March 2015.

We all know that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the Moon. And we’ve all seen the Stars and Stripes embedded into the surface, a declaration that the United States was the victor of the Space Race. But surely it was about far more than simply conquering the Moon’s surface?

There’s no denying just how much the US and NASA have done and continue to do for space exploration. But we shouldn’t forget the contribution of the Soviet Union in our pursuit of the stars. In fact, while the Soviet space program was mired in secrecy and tragedy, some of the achievements of its engineers and cosmonauts deserve unprecedented acclaim.

10. First Satellite

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Sputnik 1, the first craft to bear that famous name, was a humble 58-centimetre sphere featuring simple radio antenna. Not much to look at, it triggered the Space Race when it was launched from Site No. 1 in Kazakhstan on October 4, 1957. Sputnik 1 entered the Earth’s orbit successfully, transmitting radio signals to the eager designers and engineers, as well as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Completing 1,440 Earth orbits during its two months in space, Sputnik 1 proved a shock to American commentators. America’s view of its own nation as the major technological superpower was suddenly thrown into question, and the perception of the Soviet Union as a poor, limited nation was shattered.

9. First Animal in Orbit

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While often misrepresented as the first animal in space, Laika was actually the first animal to orbit the Earth. Although it may seem a less auspicious title, it was a long way away, both figuratively and literally, from the dog’s days walking the streets of Moscow as a stray. Boarding Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957, Laika was to pave the way for human space flight, with the impact of space travel on living creatures recorded through her experience.

Trained alongside two other dogs, Albina and Mushka, Laika was ultimately chosen for a mission that, for her at least, would last but a few hours. Laika would die from overheating not long after entering orbit, a fact not revealed until 45 years after the event. Until 2002, Russian officials had reported that Laika had survived for six days aboard Sputnik 2 before perishing due to oxygen depletion. Such misdirection would not be the first, nor the last, of the Space Race.

8. First Images of the Dark Side of the Moon

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The far side of the Moon represents one of great fascination, and not solely among fans of British prog-rock. Thanks to the Luna 3 program of October 1959, unseen views of the Moon were recorded for the very first time, with mountainous terrain and low valleys captured in 29 breathtaking images taken over a 40 minute period.

The images revealed that the surface of the far side of the Moon differed significantly from the side facing Earth. In contrast to the many areas of lunar malaria (dark plains formed by ancient volcanic eruptions) so distinctive of the Moon’s Earth-facing appearance, experts could only record two dark, low-lying areas. These would be given the monikers the Sea of Moscow and the Sea of Desire.

7. First Animals Returned From Space

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As tragic as the tale of Laika is, it would be only three years until the Soviet Union was able to send living creatures into orbit and return them back to terra firma. An unlikely squadron of cosmonauts comprising of two dogs, a grey rabbit, 42 mice, two rats, flies and several plants would board Korabl-Sputnik 2 on August 19, 1960 to embark on a landmark journey that would see them achieve what no other creatures had before: a return home safely from Earth’s orbit.

The two dogs, Belka and Strelka, were the undoubted stars of the voyage, achieving international fame more commonly afforded to their human counterparts. Strelka in particular would go on to play an important role in international relations - of the six puppies she mothered, one would be presented to Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter, in 1961.

6. First Human in Outer Space

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The name Yuri Gagarin is synonymous with adventure and bravery, with Gagarin becoming the first man to achieve orbit as part of the famous Vostok space program in April 1961. As part of the elite Sochi Six cosmonaut candidates, Gagarin was subjected to almost superhuman feats of endurance both physical and psychological in order to prepare for voyages into what, for human travellers at least, was largely unknown.

Gagarin was selected to pilot a tiny Vostok spacecraft, and was assigned the duty of being first in space. Boarding the craft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Gagarin’s cry of “Let’s go!” at the moment of take off would go down in history as a symbol of the fearless, resolute nature of Soviet space exploration. Not bad for a boy that once studied tractors.

5. First Woman in Space

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While perhaps not renowned for its feminist sensibilities, that the Soviet Union accommodated female space voyage is an achievement that often goes unheralded. Following the successful missions of Gagarin and Gherman Titov (who himself would make history by being the first person to spend 24 hours, sleep and vomit in space), Soviet engineers determined that sending a woman into space was the next logical step.

With more than 400 applicants whittled down to a shortlist of five candidates, it would be Valentina Tereshkova that would embark on the momentous journey aboard Vostok 6. Just 26 years old, Tereshkova would be a pioneer for space exploration, orbiting the Earth 48 times in the space of three days. Upon her return, Tereshkova would be awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, an honour bestowed upon all cosmonauts in the Soviet program.

4. First Spacewalk

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For Alexey Leonov, trying to convey his experience of March 18, 1965 must’ve been as improbable as it was impossible. Leonov, a former pilot in the Soviet Air Force, would go down in history for a feat of bravery like no other - he was the first man to step outside a spacecraft and embark on extra-vehicular activity, more commonly known as a spacewalk. While it may have been a struggle to truly convey this weightless, isolated feeling, Leonov was able to beautifully recount the experience of that 12 minute sojourn from the capsule of Voskhod 2:
What struck me most was the silence. It was a great silence, unlike any I have encountered on Earth, so vast and deep that I began to hear my own body: my heart beating, my blood vessels pulsing, even the rustle of my muscles moving over each other seemed audible. There were more stars in the sky than I had expected. The sky was deep black, yet at the same time bright with sunlight.
3. First Space Station

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At the start of the 1970s, and following Armstrong’s walk on the surface of the Moon, Soviet attention focused on developing a space station that could remain in orbit and accommodate visiting crews. The inaugural space station was Salyut 1, and its legacy endures to this day in the shape of the International Space Station.

Like many tales from the Soviet space program, there’s a degree of sadness surrounding Salyut 1. The crew of the first vessel to successfully dock, Soyuz 11, spent 23 days aboard the station creating history. But the magnificent feat was scarred by their return to the surface, with a pressure-equalization valve opening prematurely during re-entry, causing all three crew members to suffocate.

2. First Probe to Land On Mars

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We’ve all been impressed by the staggering images fed back by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, yet without the Soviet Mars program of 1971 it’s conceivable that such a mission would still be years away. Launched on May 28, Mars 3 was an unmanned space probe featuring a lander with two television cameras. Though it successfully negotiated a descent to the Martian surface on December 2, the project wasn’t without hiccups. Following transmission of the very first image from the surface of Mars, connection with the lander was severed after just 14.5 seconds, with the cause of failure thought to have been a powerful dust storm.

1. First Permanently Manned Space Station

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Following the success and tragedy of Salyut, the development of a replacement space station was soon undertaken. Plans for the Mir space station would originate in 1976, with the orbital assembly phase following a decade later in what would become one of the defining missions of space exploration.

Assembly began with the Mir Core Module, followed over the next decade by interlinked components such as the Kristall Technology Module and the Docking Module. Of course, the reason for the inclusion of Mir on this list lies in the fact that it would become the first space station to be permanently manned, with crews from around the globe occupying the station from 1989-1999 - a truly international undertaking for humanity.

Top image: The Russian space station Mir over the Pacific Ocean as recorded by the Space Shuttle Discovery in February 1995. Credit: NASA.

[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image added.]

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

7 REAL LIFE FORMS THAT PEOPLE ONCE BELIEVED WERE HOAXES


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7 Real Life Forms That People Once Believed Were Hoaxes
By Lauren Davis,
io9, 27 March 2015.

The history of science has its share of biological frauds, cases where people fabricated an imaginary organism and passed it off as real, or lied about an organism's behaviour. Every now and then, however, a creature that is suspected of being a hoax turns out to be real.

Sometimes, an organism that was once classed as a myth or a cryptid turns out to be an authentic, living creature. But in these cases, scientists or members of the public believed that the discovery was a deliberate fraud.

1. Platypus

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Photo by Matt Chan (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The platypus is probably the most famous case of an animal that was, at one time, believed to have been a hoax. And really, who can blame the British scientists who first saw a platypus pelt for being a bit sceptical? The 18th century had seen people try to pass of the remains of mermaids and hydras, so when Captain John Hunter sent a platypus pelt from Australia in 1798, some scientists figured it had to be the work of a creative taxidermist who had sewn bits of duck to a beaver's skin. The surgeon Robert Knox tried to debunk the platypus "hoax" by snipping into the creature's pelt, searching for any stitches that would indicate the animal was a fraud. Of course, he found none, and eventually more platypus pelts and descriptions of the animal followed.

2. King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise

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Photo by markaharper1 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Can an animal be too striking to be real? The incredible brow plume of the King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise made it immediately suspect. The New Guinea bird first turned up in a European museum in the late 19th century, and when the Director of the Dresden Museum first described the bird to British ornithologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe, Sharpe declared that such a bird could not possibly exist in nature. Despite his initial suspicions that the bird was the work of a taxidermist, Sharpe eventually eventually saw specimens with his own eyes and was convinced that the King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise and its remarkable plumage were, in fact, real.

3. Okapi

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Photo by Derek Keats (CC BY 2.0)

For European and American researchers who were investigating the wildlife of Central Africa at the turn of the 20th century, the okapi was, for some time, a cryptid. Reports of a donkey-like animal with zebra stripes first reached European eyeballs in the late 19th century thanks to reports from Henry Morton Stanley (who is perhaps best known to modern readers thanks to his search for David Livingstone and allegedly greeting the missionary-explorer by saying, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume.").

In 1900, Dr. P.L. Sclater, secretary of the London Zoological Society, exhibited a pair of "bandoliers" that he was told had been made by soldiers from the skin of an unknown animal. Sclater determined that the hairs were similar those of giraffes and zebras, although he had never seen a skin quite like that one before. The exhibition caused a sensation, with many wondering if the skins were a mere hoax. After all, how had such a creature gone undetected for so long? The following year, the question was settled when Harry Johnston sent the remains of an okapi carcass to London.

4. Pelican

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Photo by Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0)

When Carl Linnaeus was trying to catalogue flora and fauna in his Systema Naturae, he had to take a sceptical view of the organisms he was told about. After all, he was trying to create a taxonomy of living things. Mythical animals and hoaxes were included in the catalogue, but Linnaeus tried to contain them under the heading Animalia Paradoxa.

One animal that Linnaeus initially suspected was a tall tale was the pelican. To be fair, Linnaeus had good reason to doubt the reports from sailors who had spotted the birds in the New World. Linnaeus was told that an adult pelican would deliberately injure itself so that its offspring could drink its blood. It's not true; chances are the myth arose from a misinterpretation of actual pelican behaviour. But that alleged behaviour landed the pelican in the Animalia Paradoxa section of Systema Naturae, at least for a while.

5. Microorganisms

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Crop of portrait of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek by Jan Verkolje, via Wikimedia Commons.

Imagine that you're a 17th-century scientist and someone comes and tells you that there are microscopic creatures everywhere, unseen by the naked eye. You might have doubts. The Royal Society of London certainly did in 1676 when Antonie van Leeuwenhoek reported on the "animalcules" he had seen beneath his microscope. In fact, members of the Royal Society suspected Leeuwenhoek of fraud. He ended up sending the society the testimony of several eyewitnesses who had seen the "animalcules" themselves before he was finally admitted to the Royal Society of London and the Society accepted the existence of microorganisms.

6. Venus Flytrap

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Plate from John Ellis' "A Botanical Description of the Dionoea muscipula," via Wikimedia Commons.

Naturalist Sy Montgomery notes in The Wild Out Your Window that when Europeans first heard of the Venus Flytrap in the mid-18th century, many believed the descriptions were a hoax. Here was a "sensitive" plant in a far away land that didn't just sense the movement of animals; it ate them. The first known written account of the plant was made by North Carolina Governor Arthur Dobbs in 1759, and Dobbs showed his specimen to the horticulturists William and John Bartram. It's the naturalist John Ellis who is most closely associated with the Venus Flytrap, however, since he was the one who described the plant in a letter to Carl Linnaeus.

Of course, scepticism about these exotic plants is healthy. Otherwise, you have people believing that there are human-eating trees in Madagascar.

7. Plesiosaurus

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Mary Anning's sketch of a Plesiosaur, via Paleonerdish.

In 1823, palaeontologist Mary Anning discovered the first complete skeleton of Plesiosaurus in Lyme Regis in Dorset county. But not everyone believed that the find was genuine at first. The anatomist and palaeontologist Georges Cuvier thought that Anning was a very clever anatomist herself, but believed, given the proportions of the neck, that the creature was a composite made from the skeletons of multiple animals. It took a bit of convincing from fellow palaeontologists William Buckland, Mary Morland, and William Conybeare for Cuvier to accept the marine reptile as a genuine prehistoric animal.

Top image: Berlin Aquarium mural of a Plesiosaur on land by Heinrich Harder, via Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: io9. Edited.]

10 WEIRDLY WONDERFUL LEMUR SPECIES


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10 Weirdly Wonderful Lemur Species
By Jaymi Heimbuch,
Mother Nature Network, 29 March 2015.

Lemurs are adorable. We've all seen the ring-tailed and ruffed lemurs basking in the sun at the zoo, and they're super cute. They are also just a couple of examples of the incredibly diverse range of species in the lemur family tree. There are many species you've probably never heard of or seen before. From teensy mouse lemurs to lemurs with freakishly long fingers, we're celebrating weird yet cute lemur species.

1. Brown mouse lemur

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Photo: Frank Vassen/Wikimedia Commons

You're probably thinking there's no way this could be a lemur. It's got to be some sort of little squirrel or even a long-lost cousin of the sugar glider. But no, the brown mouse lemur is a primate and found only on Madagascar. The brown mouse lemur is nocturnal (hence the ridiculously huge eyes) and feeds on insects, fruits and flowers, including nectar and pollen. The species is the shortest lived of all the primates, making it only to about 6-8 years old. While it looks quite different from many other lemur species, it has one thing in common with all lemurs: it is vulnerable to extinction.


2. Diademed sifaka

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Photo: C. Michael Hogan/Wikimedia Commons

We go from one of the world's smallest to one of the world's largest lemur species. The diademed sifaka is a critically endangered lemur species native to a handful of rain forests in eastern Madagascar. The long white fur that circles its face is what gives it its name. Diademed sifakas live their lives primarily in the forest canopy, rarely coming to the ground. They are made for life above ground, with the ability to move as fast as 18 miles per hour through the trees using their strong legs for leaping. There are only between 6,000-10,000 individuals left of this colourful, unique lemur species.


3. Aye-aye

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Photo: Tom Junek/Wikimedia Commons

If you're surprised to know the aye-aye is a lemur species, you're not alone - scientists argued about this until 2008 when the animal was grouped in with other families of species under the umbrella of lemurs, and the classification may shift again. But currently, we're going with lemur. The aye-aye is famous - or rather, infamous - for its creepy appearance. Despite its reputation for being an evil omen, the aye-aye is an incredibly cool animal. It's the world's largest nocturnal primate species. Because the aye aye is active when it's dark, it uses sound to find food, but not in the way you might think. Climbing along a tree, it taps the trunk and listens until it locates a grub under the bark. It then uses rodent-like teeth to gnaw a hole and uses its extremely long, thin fingers to fish insects out of the bark of trees. Basically, it's the primate version of a woodpecker. Unfortunately, it is also endangered, and its "evil omen" reputation doesn't help; many Malagasy people kill aye-ayes on sight and hang them up as a way to get rid of evil spirits.


4. Mongoose lemur

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Photo: Lea Maimone/Wikimedia Commons

The mongoose lemur is one of only two lemurs found outside of Madagascar, and it is an introduced resident of the Comoros Islands. Even with this extra real estate, it's still limited to a tiny area of Madagascar and is listed as a critically endangered species. It eats fruits, flowers and nectar, making it important for both pollination and seed dispersal. Rather than being diurnal, nocturnal or crepuscular like most animals, mongoose lemurs are cathemeral, meaning they're active at varying times of the day and night depending on the season and availability of light. Basically they're always ready to move it, move it. (You knew that "Madagascar" movie reference was coming at some point!)


5. Bamboo lemur

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Photo: Rachel Kramer/Wikimedia Commons

The bamboo lemur wasn't called that until the 1980s. Before that, it was known as the gentle lemur, which is ironic considering it is one of the most aggressive lemurs in captivity. (The "gentle lemur" name has to do with the Greek translation of the genus name, but that's a long story.) Anyway, they're now known as bamboo lemurs and there are five species and three subspecies, all found on Madagascar in forests where there is a lot of (you guessed it) bamboo and they eat primarily (you guessed it again) bamboo. One of these species, however, is entirely not like the others. The Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur lives in the reed beds of Lac Alaotra, rather than high in the forest canopy. Where most lemur species are poor swimmers, this species swims well thanks to spending a good deal of time in the water.


6. Fork-marked lemur

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Photo: Russell A. Mittermeier/Wikimedia Commons

If the brown mouse lemur reminded you even a smidgen of the sugar glider, then the fork-marked lemur looks like the sugar glider's twin! The species is named for the two dark stripes running over its face and head. Found in patches of forest on the north, west and east sides of Madagascar, they are among the least studied lemur, so not much is known about them. We do know, however, that they are nocturnal and get around by running along the lower branches of trees about 10 feet off the ground. They can leap quite a distance when moving from tree to tree, clearing as much as 15 feet horizontally or over 30 feet when leaping to lower branches. They eat mainly gums and saps from various tree species and also enjoy snacking on arthropods and sometimes even small reptiles, so their speed in the tree branches comes in handy mostly in territorial disputes.


7. Blue-eyed black lemur

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Photo: Anrie/Wikimedia Commons

Winner of "best eyes" is the blue-eyed black lemur. It's a tiny bit of a misnomer because only the males are black; the females are a reddish-brown colour. Both colours help their striking blue eyes stand out. What's particularly amazing about this characteristic is that they are one of the only primates other than humans to consistently have blue eyes. But don't let those baby blues fool you into thinking this is a particularly sweet species. They're quite aggressive - they have skirmishes within their troop, and they will even commit infanticide against other lemur species when in captivity, a behaviour that is usually rare. However feisty they might be, they still haven't been able to fight their way out of trouble in the wild. Deforestation has driven this species to near extinction. Sadly the blue-eyed black lemur is now one of the 25 most endangered primate species in the world.


8. Common brown lemur

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Photo: Charlesjsharp/Wikimedia Commons

We go from blue eyes to vibrantly orange eyes. The common brown lemur lives in a wide variety of forest types, from lowlands to mountains, from evergreen forests to deciduous forests. This range likely factors into its status as near threatened, rather than endangered or critically endangered like so many of its cousins. The common brown lemur is mostly active during the day but like the mongoose lemur, it can be cathemeral as well. In fact, these two species sometimes share territory, and adjusting the times of their activity helps them avoid conflict and peaceably divvy up the resources of their forest homes.


9. Golden-crowned sifaka

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Photo: Jeff Gibbs/Wikipedia

This lemur species looks like it was patted on the head by King Midas. It's all white or cream-coloured coat is topped with a crown of gold. Golden-crowned lemurs live in groups of five or six individuals, and females are the leaders. The only known predator is the foosa, but humans are increasing as a threat through habitat destruction and an increase in poaching for bushmeat. Only an estimated 18,000 individuals exist in the wild, living in 44 fragmented pieces of forest. They are listed as critically endangered.


10. Silky sifaka

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Photo: Jeff Gibbs/Wikimedia Commons

The long white fur of this species has a silky texture and along with its completely hairless face and ears, it is a real stand-out among lemur species. The males use a scent glad on their chest to mark the edges of their territory, and the resulting orange-coloured patch is the only easy way to tell males and females apart. Silky sifakas not only eat the usual leaves and seeds but also sometimes dine on something several other lemur species snack on: dirt. They can get some minerals and nutrients from eating clay and soils, a behaviour known as geophagy. Unfortunately, this species is also critically endangered, and is one of the 25 most endangered primates on Earth. There is no local taboo against eating this animal, so it is hunted throughout its remaining range, which has been significantly reduced through deforestation.


Top image: Variety of lemurs, clockwise from top left: grey mouse lemur, red-tailed sportive lemur, red-fronted brown lemur, black-and-white ruffed lemur. Credit: Wikimedia Commons (cropped image).

[Source: Mother Nature Network. Edited. Some images and links added.]