As dictated to Lynne Venart and David Brown

Howdy!  Doug Beetle here.  

Today I’m exploring the spiny forest in southwestern Madagascar. This area is very dry and hot. Here we find majestic baobabs and trees and bushes that have long spines. This spiny habitat is endemic to Madagascar, meaning you can only find it there.

I’m hoping to meet a species of lemur called a Verreaux’s sifaka. I’ve heard rumors that the sifakas have wild dance parties in these spiny forests, and I’ve got to find out if that’s true!  Who can pass up a great dance party?  Well, I’ve been tromping through this forest for hours and not seen any dance parties, so I’m not sure that they even exist.


Doug Beetle: WOAH!  What was that thing leaping over my head there?  Hello?  You over there leaping – do you know where I can find a sifaka?

Verreaux’s sifaka: Just a second, let me bounce over there so we can talk.  SPROING! [Roxy leaps to the tree next to Doug.]

Nice to meet you. I’m Roxy, the Verreaux’s sifaka. Some people call me Propithecus verreauxi.

Doug Beetle: Hi Roxy, I’m Doug Beetle.  I’ve heard that there’s a killer sifaka dance party in these spiny forests.  Do you think that you can get me into it?

Verreaux’s sifaka: Dance party?  Hmmmm, not sure what – oh, wait do you mean the way we move on the ground?  BOING BOING BOING!  [Roxy leaps out of the tree and jumps along the ground.]

Doug Beetle:  COOL!  You jump around like that on the ground all the time?

Verreaux’s sifaka: Yep!  We spend most of our time in the trees here where we eat the leaves, bark, and fruit. We get around up there in our arboreal world by leaping from tree to tree, and when we come down to the ground we jump instead of walking. Walking is sooooo slow, so we don’t bother.

Doug Beetle: Ah, that’s the dance party – it’s how you move through the world in the trees and on the ground.  I’ve got a pogo stick here in my backpack.  Do you mind if I hang around with you for awhile and we can explore the forest sifaka-style?

Verreaux’s sifaka:  You mean you have a device that lets you move like a sifaka?  Let’s go meet my troop!  They are down by the stream having some bark and they’ll be pleased to meet you.


And thus the mystery of the sifaka dance party was solved.