National Geographic : 1988 Aug
"Beautifulbeast," an English trader in 1608 called an animal with a "long taile like a Fox, garled with white and blacke" the ring-tailed lemur. Highly sociable troops contain 5 to 30 members and thrive in a moist habitat with lush vegetation. On the edge of the southern desert such an oasis exists in a private reserve where ringtails soak up the sun. Weeks old, a youngster whizzes along bareback atop its mother (left). At this reservethe authorpio neered detailed researchinto lemur society when she began observing this species in 1963. Although prior studies had con cluded that male primates dom inated females, she discovered the opposite to be true among ringtails, behavior later borne out by other lemur species.