October 27, 2010

New Snub-Nosed Monkey Discovered In Myanmar

A team of biologists have discovered a new species of monkey--one that sports almost entirely black fur, a long tail, and an upturned nose which makes it sneeze when it rains.

The primatologists, led by Ngwe Lwin of the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA), discovered the new species, dubbed Rhinopithecus strykeri, in the high-altitude region of the Kachin State, Northeastern Myanmar. They describe their findings in an article published in the most recent edition of the American Journal of Primatology.

The Rhinopithecus strykeri is almost entirely blackish in color, save for white fur on its ear tufts, chin beard and perineal area. Furthermore, its lengthy tail is an estimated 140 percent of its body size.

"While the species is new to science the local people know it well and claim that it is very easy to find when it is raining because the monkeys often get rainwater in their upturned noses causing them to sneeze," notes a press release, dated October 26, discussing the discovery. "To avoid getting rainwater in their noses they spend rainy days sitting with their heads tucked between their knees."

An international team of primatologists, including representatives from the Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the People Resources and Biodiversity Foundation, worked alongside Lwin during the investigation.

Thomas Geissmann of the University of Zurich-Irchel was lead author of the paper and headed up the taxonomic description of the monkey, which locals refer to as 'mey nwoah' or 'monkey with an upturned face.'

"It's new to science. It's unusual to travel to a remote area and discover a monkey that looks unlike any other in the world," Geissmann told Reuters Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle in an interview on Tuesday.

According to Doyle, the researchers believe that only between 260 and 330 of the monkeys currently live in the region, due to logging and an ongoing dam project in the heavily forested region, they believe that the snub-nosed monkey is currently critically endangered.


Image 1: An image reconstructed by Photoshop, based on a Yunnan snub-nosed monkey and the carcass of the newly discovered species, is also available. This image should be credited to Dr. Thomas Geissmann. Credit: Dr. Thomas Geissmann

Image 2: Fauna & Flora International has commissioned the attached artists impression of the new species in its habitat, based on field sightings and a carcass of the newly discovered species. Credit: Martin Aveling/Fauna & Flora International


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