New species of ‘titi monkey’ is discovered in Brazil plateau after deforestation drives them out of their natural habitat
- A researcher in southwestern Brazil discovered a new species of titi monkey
- The monkey had originally been mistakenly classified in 1914
- After collecting DNA samples, the team realized they had found a new species
A new species of monkey has been discovered on the Parecis Plateau in southwestern Brazil.
A subspecies of titi monkey, the new primates were first documented in 1914 but were misclassified because their dark fur made them resemble the ashy black titi.
The discovery was initially made by Mariluce Messias of the Federal University of Rondônia, who began studying titi monkeys in the region in 2011.
The Parecis titi monkey (above left) was originally thought to be a member of the ashy black titi species (above right)
Messias was studying how the rapid pace of deforestation in the region would affect its local monkey populations.
She began to notice some unusual differences in the coloring of the fur among the monkeys, specifically, some had reddish brown patches on their back along with a white splotch on their chests.
She collected gene samples from some of these monkeys and tested it against DNA samples of ten other species of regional monkey, including the ashy black titi.
The results confirmed she had indeed discovered a new species, plecturocebus parecis, or Parecis titi.
A university researcher in Brazil first noticed the differences in fur coloration while studying deforestation on the Parecis plateau in 2011
There are a variety of different titi monkey species
‘One thing about deforestation is that it gives everyone access to remote areas, so sometimes scientists get to areas that have never been properly explored just before the chainsaws,’ Adrian Barnett, one of Messias’s research partners, told New Scientist.
Because the observed population is small and the habitat continues to shrink, the team hope the Parecis titi will be classified as ‘near threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of endangered animals.
The IUCN publishes The Red List, a measure of the world’s biodiversity that charts various animals and plant life that are endangered.
While the species was new to the scientists, it was familiar enough to the locals that they had given it its own name; ‘otôhô.’
The Parecis plateau region is in southwestern Brazil and has been a heavy target of deforestation
The researchers that discovered the Parecis titi hope that it will be added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of endangered animals
Earlier this month another species was discovered hiding in plain sight when researchers in Colombia stumbled across the harlequin toad, which was thought to have been extinct.
The distinctive black and white amphibian, which hadn’t been seen in person for some 30 years, was discovered in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range.
The local Arhuaco people consider the land sacred ground and had prevented scientists from conducting any research on the grounds.
WHAT IS THE ENDANGERED ‘RED LIST’?
Species on the endangered red list are animals of the highest conservation priority that need ‘urgent action’ to save.
An Amber list is reserved for the next most critical group, followed by a green list.
Red list criteria:
- Globally threatened
- Historical population decline in UK during 1800–1995
- Severe (at least 50 per cent) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years
- Severe (at least 50 per cent) contraction of UK breeding range over last 25 years
Last year, in the UK, several more species were added to the list.
- Atlantic puffin
- Long-tailed duck
- Turtle dove