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Secret Science Club presents Primatologist Patricia Chapple Wright
Sep 22, 2015 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Madagascar is a strange place. It’s sometimes called the 8th continent due to its unique evolution and physical isolation. Ninety percent of its wildlife is found nowhere else, and its lemursare Earth’s most diverse group of primates. With no monkeys to compete with, Madagascar’s lemurs evolved into over 100 species, from the 3.5-inch Berthe’s mouse lemur (the smallest primate in the world) to the now-extinct giant sloth lemur(which weighed as much as a gorilla).
When primatologist Patricia Chapple Wrightfirst visited Madagascar in the 1980s, shediscovered the golden bamboo lemur, so called because of the golden fur on its head and bellyand a habit of eating cyanide-laced bamboo shoots that would kill any other primate. At that time, the lemur’s rain forest habitat was on the verge of being chopped down. To save the lemurs, Dr. Wright lobbied the Malagasy government and local villagers—as well as conservationists around the world. Her efforts led to the creation of Ranomafana National Park, where she’s been studying the social and family behaviors of wild lemurs for three decades, and advocating for the preservation of Madagascar’s endangered wildlife.
Winner of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” and the 2014 Indianapolis Prize for her extraordinary contributions to wildlife conservation, Dr. Wright isone of the world’s foremost experts on lemurs,professor of anthropology at Stony Brook University, and founder of Centre ValBio Research Station in Madagascar. She is the author of over 150 scientific papers, as well as the books High Moon Over the Amazon: My Quest to Understand the Monkeys of the Night and For the Love of Lemurs: My Life in the Wilds of Madagascar. She has organized and led over 40 expeditions to study the world’s primates. She and her field research have been featured on film in Michael Apted’s Me and Isaac Newton and the 3-D IMAX movie, Islandof Lemurs.