Tratratratra

Unknown Primate of Madagascar.

Etymology: Malagasy (Austronesian) word, possibly based on its call. Variant name: Trétrétrétré. Physical description: As large as a two-year-old calf. Frizzy hair. Face is round and very humanlike. Ears are humanlike. Front and hind feet are like an ape's. Short tail.

Behavior: Solitary. If the name is onomatopo-etic, its call would be a chatter. Distribution: Madagascar.

Present status: The only known mention was by Etienne de Flacourt in 1658. Possible explanations:

(1) A surviving giant lemur of the genus Palaeopropithecus, which was formerly widespread in Madagascar and apparently persisted until at least the sixteenth century. It weighed 85—130 pounds and was largely ground-dwelling.

(2) A surviving giant lemur of the genus Megaladapis, which weighed 85-175 pounds. However, its face was elongated and tilted upward in a way found in no other primate and would probably not be described as like a human's. Its arms and legs were short, but its hands and feet were extraordinarily long. It was arboreal but probably slow-moving in the trees.

(3) A surviving giant lemur of the genus Archeolemur or Hadropithecus, which weighed around 30-55 pounds, probably too small for this animal.

Sources: Etienne de Flacourt, Histoire de la grande isle Madagascar (Paris: G. de Luyne, 1658), p. 154; Raymond Decary, La faune malgache, son role dans les croyances et les usages indigenes (Paris: Payot, 1950), p. 206; Elwyn L. Simons, "Lemurs: Old and New," in Steven M. Goodman and Bruce D. Patterson, eds., Natural Change and Human Impact in Madagascar (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1997), pp. 142-166.

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