Scientists discover new monkey species in Amazon



Posted on 24 August 2011  | 
Mato Grosso, Brazil: Scientists on an expedition backed by WWF-Brazil to one of the last unexplored areas in the Brazilian Mid-west have discovered a new species of monkey.

The monkey belonging to the Callicebus genus was found in the northwest of Mato Grosso State and is one of the great results from the studies undertaken during an expedition in December 2010 to the Guariba-Roosevelt Extractive Reserve.

In May, WWF-Brazil and the scientist who made the discovery, Julio Dalponte, officially handed over the specimen to the Emílio Goeldi Museum in Belem, Para.

“By integrating this animal to a reputable collection such as that of the Goeldi museum we have taken an important step towards gaining better knowledge of the fauna in the northwest Mato Grosso region which is still a puzzle with many pieces missing”, Mr Dalponte explained.

Dalponte remarked that the discovery of the new species increases the potential biodiversity of the northwest of Mato Grosso and with it the importance of conservation in the area.

“We do have some information on Protected Areas surrounding this region but little information on this part of the State itself. That means we must work to complete this map and fill in the gaps in our information on the region” said Dalponte.

“Never been observed before”

The primate specimen was found in an area between the courses of the Guariba River and the Roosevelt River, two of the most important water courses in the north-western part of Mato Grosso state.

Dalponte noted “This primate has features on its head and tail that have never been observed before in other titi monkey species found in the same area”.

The animal will be the object of studies designed to provide a detailed description of its characteristics to mammalian zoology experts and primatologists worldwide.

The study of the species will take about six months to conclude. The process of publishing the discovery in specialised scientific journals can take up to one year from the time the papers are submitted till the time they are approved for publication by the editing committees of scientific journals and reviews.

Other discoveries

The discovery was made during a 20 day expedition in December 2010 to four Protected Areas in the north-west of Mato Grosso state.

The aim of the expedition was to gather information to support the improvement of the management plans for these areas.

The expedition team of 26 people was made up of researchers and support staff and together covered around 950km of forest and also discovered suspected new fish and plant species and five animal species under threat of extinction.

'Deforestation Crescent'

The area the expedition team explored lies within an area known as ‘Deforestation Crescent’ which is overrun with illegal loggers and occupied by huge cattle farms.

Violence associated to land tenure conflicts and lack of health or education services and electricity supplies are very common throughout the area. On top of that there are environmental problems like predatory forms of fishing, contamination of river water, deforestation, unchecked expansion of agricultural activities and lack of surveillance and inspection on the part of the state and federal environment authorities.

Living Amazon Initiative

The Amazon region comprises the largest rainforest and river system on Earth. It consists of over 600 different types of terrestrial and freshwater habitats, from swamps to grasslands to montane and lowland forests, and it houses an incredible 10% of the world’s known species, including endemic and endangered flora and fauna.

More than 30 million people living in the Amazon depend on its resources and services – many millions more living as far away as North America and Europe, still are within the Amazon’s far-reaching climatic influence.

The Amazon is one of WWF’s priority places for conservation and so WWF has developed the Living Amazon Initiative, a comprehensive approach to conserving the largest rainforest and river system.

WWF has been at the forefront in protecting the Amazon for over 40 years and is using this experience to work with governments, local communities and others to ensure conservation and sustainable development throughout this vital ecosystem.
 
The new species of monkey discovered on the expedition belonged to the 'Callicebus' genus
© Julio Dalponte Enlarge

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