Two New Monkeys Found in Amazon Rainforest
By Cat Lazaroff
WASHINGTON, DC, June 24, 2002 (ENS) - Two never before described species of monkey have been found in Brazil's Amazon rainforest. The scientists responsible for the discovery say there are likely to be other species within the rainforest that are unknown to science, and their existence lends even greater urgency to the race to save one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth.
"Even though our closest living relatives, the primates, have been very well studied for the past four decades, we are once again surprised by the discovery of even more species," said Mittermeier. "It proves how much we still need to learn about biological diversity, especially in the tropical rainforests."
One of the species, Callicebus bernhardi, or Prince Bernhard's titi monkey, is remarkable for its dark orange sideburns, chest and the inner sides of its limbs, its reddish brown back, and a white tipped black tail. It lives between the east bank of the Rio Madeira and the lower reaches of its tributary, the Rio Aripuaña, south of the Amazon River.
Van Roosmalen will present the discovery to the Prince in a special ceremony at Soestdijk Palace in Holland on June 25, four days before the Prince's 91st birthday. Prince Bernhard will also receive a special portrait of his monkey by Stephen Nash, Conservation International's technical illustrator, who has made major contributions to primate conservation worldwide through his posters and educational materials.
The second new species, Callicebus stephennashi, is named after Nash, who works for Conservation International and is based at the Department of Anatomical Sciences at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
"I am currently using my new discoveries to convince the Brazilian government to create nature reserves in the areas where I have found these species and where others, yet unknown to science, are likely to live," said Marc van Roosmalen. "The Amazon is extremely rich in biodiversity, and these newly discovered creatures should be regarded as flagship species."
Scientists have described 24 monkeys new to science since 1990, according to Anthony Rylands, senior director at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International. Thirteen of these new species are from Brazil.
Including the two monkeys described today, Brazil now has 95 species of primates, far more than any other country, and 134 species and subspecies, close to one-quarter of the global total.
Primates, including these new species, face many threats, including habitat destruction, bushmeat hunting, and live capture for the pet trade. The most recent assessment of primate conservation status carried out by the IUCN/SSC indicates that 150 species, or one in four, are in the endangered and critically endangered categories of IUCN and that 55, or one in 10, are critically endangered.
At the most recent congress of the International Primatological Society, held in Adelaide, Australia in January 2001, the Society outlined an action plan aimed at maintaining the full range of primate diversity. The plan recommends focusing conservation efforts on the 150 most critically endangered and endangered species by determining the areas that need protection, identifying the projects that need to be instituted, and establishing cost.
And in April 2001, the government of Brazil created a new protected area to aid in the recovery of the golden lion tamarin - a tiny monkey that numbers about 1,000 in the wild.
An account of the newly discovered titi monkeys appears in a just released special supplement to the journal "Neotropical Primates."