New species of monkey described
Last Updated Thu, 16 Dec 2004 18:26:21 EST
NEW YORK – A species of monkey previously unknown to science has been discovered in the forests of northeastern India.
The Arunachal macaque has a dark face and is relatively large with a shorter tail than most macaques.
It is named after the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh where it was found. The macaque lives at altitudes of between 1,600 and 3,500 metres above sea level.
“The discovery of a new species of monkey is quite rare,” said M.D. Madhusudan, who was part of the discovery team.
“Few would have thought that with over a billion people and retreating wild lands, a new large mammal species would ever be found in India, of all places,” he added in a release.
The last time scientists described a new macaque was in 1903. There are 21 known species of macaques living across a variety of habitats in Asia. Of these, eight were identified in India.
Researchers photographed the new species during expeditions in 2003 and 2004. They describe it in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Primatology.
The macaque’s scientific name, Macaca munzala, is based on the name it was given by the Dirang Monpa people, mun zala, or “deep-forest monkey.”
Indian scientists hope to obtain a sample of the macaque’s DNA to help identify its place within the primate family tree.
The expedition team has asked the Indian government to protect the primate’s habitat.
Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Nature Conservation Foundation, International Snow Leopard Trust, and the National Institute of Advanced Studies participated in the expeditions.
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