Thursday, August 12, 2010

Scientists Discover New Bearded Monkey

Callicebus caquetensisis
Scientists Thomas Defler, Marta Bueno and Javier García have discovered a new species of monkey in the Caquetá region of southern Colombia. The region, which is part of the Amazon rainforest, had been inaccessible for years due to a violent insurgence.

The violence subsided three years ago, allowing García--a native of Caquetá--to explore the Colombian Amazon. Using a GPS to traverse the upper Caquetá River, García found 13 different groups of titi monkeys, which have a very complex call.

"This discovery is extremely exciting because we had heard about this animal, but for a long time we could not confirm if it was different from other titis. We now know that this is a unique species, and it shows the rich diversity of life that is still to be discovered in the Amazon," said Dr. Defler.

The Callicebus caquetensisis is about the size of a cat with grayish-brown hair, but is missing the white bar on its forehead common to other titis. It's most distinct feature is its bushy red beard. Unlike most primates, but common to all titis, they are monogamous with tightly knit families.

However, the news of this discovery is tarnished by the fact that the titi faces extinction. It is estimated that less than 250 Caquetá titi monkeys exist. A healthy population would be in the thousands. The dwindling population is due to deforestation as their habitat has been turned into agricultural land.

Full story here.

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