Monday, September 17, 2012
New species of 'owl faced' monkey discovered
The species, known locally as the lesula, was discovered after a young female was seen kept captive at the home of a primary school director in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007.
The young animal resembled an owl faced monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni) but the colour of its rear end was different to that of any known species, the researchers writing in the journal PLoS ONE said.
In fact, they say, its blue rear end is unique.
'The blue perineum, buttocks and scrotum displayed by adult males are more extensive than genital patches in any other Cercopithecus', the researchers wrote.
The discovery of the new species, in one of the country’s last unexplored forest areas, is only the second time a new monkey species has been found in Africa in the last 28 years.
Although the 6,500 square mile area in which the shy lesula is found is remote and sparsely populated, the researchers warn the monkey is vulnerable to extinction as a result of hunting for bush meat.
Researcher John Hart said: 'The challenge for conservation now in Congo is to intervene before losses become definitive.
'Species with small ranges like the lesula can move from vulnerable to seriously endangered over the course of just a few years.'