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The mechanisms underlying the evolution of taste perception across the animal kingdom continues to be a subject of inquiry. Black-and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) are considered to be highly frugivorous and presumably rely on sweet taste perception when selecting food. Currently, no data on the taste responsiveness for naturally occurring food-associated sugars in the black-and-white ruffed lemur are available.

Thus, the aim of this study was two-fold: (1) to determine the ruffed lemurs’ taste preference thresholds for sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, and lactose (2): To determine the relative preference of the lemurs for these five saccharides.

Testing was carried out using two-bottle preference tests of short duration in three captive black-and-white ruffed lemurs. Taste preference thresholds were found to be 25-50 mM for sucrose, 25-50 mM for fructose, 75 mM for glucose, 50 mM for maltose and 50 mM for lactose. Furthermore, the lemurs significantly preferred sucrose over all other saccharides and fructose over glucose, maltose and lactose when presented at equimolar concentrations of 50 mM, 100 mM and 200 mM, respectively. The lemurs’ taste sensitivity falls into the same range as that reported in other primates and the order of relative preference is similar to that in humans and the majority of the other primates tested so far. The notion of a possible positive correlation between the degree of frugivory and taste sensitivity was not supported by the findings of this study.


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Last updated: 06/09/14