New Monkey Species Found in Remote Amazon

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"The population is quite small, so they are quite vulnerable. I'm a bit concerned."

Little is known about the creature's habits, but Boubli said it lives in social groups and is likely a seed-eater, based on his observations of other uakaris.

Anthony Rylands, a primatologist at Conservation International, said work such as Boubli's is vital to wildlife protection.

"Many of these tropical forests are being destroyed now," Rylands said. (Read about threats to the world's rain forests.)

"There's a desperate need to save these animals, but we really need to know what animals we're trying to save [and] where they live. Otherwise you can't do anything about it."

Rylands added that today more new primate species are being described in the wake of advances in DNA technology.

"The sophistication of genetic analysis from just about any material—hair, feces—means we're able to get a much more precise view of primate diversity.

"Some of them, especially the nocturnal ones, are really quite cryptic—you can never recognize the differences simply by looking.

"Now … we've suddenly begun to realize that animals we previously considered to be one species are completely different creatures."

Defining the Species

A formal description of C. ayresii has been submitted to the International Journal of Primatology.

Meanwhile, some of Boubli's students will return to Pico de Neblina to study the new monkey's environment and behavior.

"It's very important to define what those monkeys are doing there, how big their range is, because we want to make a case for the Brazilian government to create a reserve," Boubli said.

"Finding a relatively large monkey as a new species these days is pretty cool," he said. "It shows how little we really know about the biodiversity of the Amazon."

(Related photos: "Amazon Expedition Discovers Dozens of New Animals" [June 5, 2007].)

In 2003 Boubli described another new species from the region, the bearded saki.

And he believes that new types of spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and capuchin monkeys await confirmation.

"If we are still finding monkeys, imagine how many invertebrates and things like that are still out there. It's pretty amazing."

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