The newly discovered in Myanmar stubby nose monkey Rhinopithecus strykeri, shown here on a computer-generated photomontage. Credit: dr. Thomas Geissmann
In northern Myanmar, researchers have uncovered a hitherto unknown species of monkey that has a real problem in bad weather: the rainwater runs into the animals' large nostrils, so they constantly sneeze. To avoid this, they prefer to spend such days with their heads between their knees, the scientists learned from local hunters. These have long been aware of the existence of the monkey species that is new to science - after all, the animals are very easy to find in the rain because of the sneezing attacks. However, as for many newly discovered animals, Rhinopithecus strykeri, the official name of the monkeys, is uncertain about the future: they were immediately classified as "threatened with extinction". Actually, the discovery was more of a coincidence: during a cataloging of the Gibbon stock at the beginning of the year, the primatologists repeatedly came across reports of a monkey species with prominent prominent lips and large nostrils. Occurrence, the animals supposedly from the eastern foothills of the Himalayas to the northeastern area of ​​Myanmar. In fact, researchers led by Ngwe Lwin of the Myanmar Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association were able to track down a small population of unusual monkeys in a subsequent field study.

The animals apparently belong to the stump-nose monkeys, which are characterized by their little protruding noses - in some cases they even appear as impressed. The same applies to the new species: with them, the large open nostrils are in the middle of the face and are also oriented upwards, according to the researchers a very unusual feature. The coat of the animals is almost completely black, only on the ears and on the chin are found individual white hair tufts. Her tail is almost one and a half times as long as the entire body, which is also not common.

The scientists baptized the monkey Rhinopithecus strykeri in honor of the founder of a foundation that supported the project. For the locals, however, he is "Mey Nwoah", the "monkey with the face turned upwards". In the summer, the monkeys retreat to the forests of higher regions, in winter, they retire due to food shortages back to the vicinity of the villages. Overall, the researchers estimate, there are currently about 260 to 330 animals that live mainly in a specific area between the two rivers Mekong and Saluen. The animals probably also owe it to their isolated position that they remained undetected for so long, the primatologists assume. With the seclusion, however, could be an end in the near future: The area is being developed more and more, especially by loggers. This increases the likelihood that the animals will soon die out - unless measures are immediately taken to protect the monkeys.

Ngwe Lwin (Myanmar Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association) et al .: American Journal of Primatology, online pre-publication, doi: 10.1002 / ajp.20894 dapd / Ilka Lehnen-Beyel advertisement


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