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Gallery images and information: Ring Tailed Lemur Baby

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Although the term "lemur" was first intended for slender lorises, it was soon limited to the endemic Malagasy primates, which have been known as "lemurs" ever since. The name derives from the Latin term lemures, which refers to specters or ghosts that were exorcised during the Lemuria festival of ancient Rome. According to Carl Linnaeus' own explanation, the name was selected because of the nocturnal activity and slow movements of the slender loris. Being familiar with the works of Virgil and Ovid and seeing an analogy that fit with his naming scheme, Linnaeus adapted the term "lemur" for these nocturnal primates. However, it has been commonly and falsely assumed that Linnaeus was referring to the ghost-like appearance, reflective eyes, and ghostly cries of lemurs. It has also been speculated that Linnaeus may also have known that the some Malagasy people have held legends that lemurs are the souls of their ancestors, but this is unlikely given that the name was selected for slender lorises from India. The species name, catta, refers to the ring-tailed lemur's cat-like appearance. Its purring vocalization is similar to that of the domestic cat.