The blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons), also known as the Sclater's lemur, is a species of true lemur. It can attain a body length of 39–45 cm, a tail length of 51–65 cm- a total length of 90–100 cm, and a weight of 1.8-1.9 kg (Mittermeier 2006). Being a primate, it has strong hands with palms like a human, which have a rubbery texture to give it a firm grip on branches. Its tail is longer than its body and non-prehensile.
Like many of the species in the Eulemur genus, the blue-eyed black lemur is sexually dichromatic. Males are solid black in color, with the hairs sometimes tinged brown at the roots. Females are reddish-brown in color with their underside and outline of their face a lighter tan. They have a dark brown or gray muzzle and the back of their hands and feet are a similar dark color. Both sexes have blue eyes, hence the common name, and are one of the only primates other than humans to consistently have blue eyes. The eyes can range in color from shocking electric blue, a light sky-blue, or a softer gray-blue.
Although the blue-eyed black lemur and the black lemur (Eulemur macaco) look similar, they can be differentiated by the blue eyes and lack of prominent ear tufts of Eulemur flavifrons, while the black lemur has orange-red eyes and long, spiky cheek hairs. In the Manongarivo Special reserve, where the range of the two species overlap, there is report of hybridization between the two species, but the resulting offspring always have orange eyes. Until 2008, the blue-eyed black lemur was considered a subspecies, E. macaco flavifrons, of the black lemur (Mittermeier et al. 2008).
- Mittermeier, R. A. et al. (2008). "Lemur Diversity in Madagascar". International Journal of Primatology 29 (6): 1607–1656. doi:10.1007/s10764-008-9317-y.
- Mittermeier, RA (2006). Lemurs of Madagascar. p. 291. ISBN 1-881173-88-7.
Fruit, pollen, and nectar make up the bulk of this lemur's diet. During the dry season when food is scarce it may eat leaves, seeds and berries and rarely insects. It may also raid farmlands and eat some of the crops, which may lead to it being shot by farmers.
The blue-eyed black lemur helps propagate many rain forest plants. Since it digests the flesh but not the seeds of the fruits it eats, it spreads the seeds of more than 50 different plant species (deposited in a fresh pile of fertilizer), and some plants may have evolved specifically to be dispersed by this lemur. The blue-eyed black lemur also pollinates many plants while it eats nectar and pollen from the plants' flowers.