Around the World with DNA
What's black and white and fluffy all over?

The answer to this riddle is one of my favorite animals. My name is Yael Wyner, and I study black-and-white ruffed lemurs. These small, furry mammals live in Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa.

Many forests in Madagascar have been destroyed because people need land for grazing and farming. So now lemurs are endangered. Scientists want to prevent these marvelous creatures from becoming extinct. So they are sending lemurs that have been bred in U.S. zoos back home to their native Madagascar.

Scientists hope that the imported lemurs will mate with the native ones, and that the population will gradually increase. In the lab, I analyzed the DNA sequences from several lemurs from both Madagascar and U.S. zoos. Scientists are using my results to help track how the “zoo lemurs” are adjusting to their new habitat over time.


Yael Wyner