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First discovery of new species, snub-nosed monkey, by Fauna & Flora International

By Simon Meadows

Last updated 10/27/2010 12:10:37 PM

A new type of snub-nosed monkey - Photograph by Dr Thomas Geissmann

It started with reports of a monkey that had never before been recorded. A type of primate which has upturned nostrils and fleshy lips, making it look quite unusual looking.

And in the investigation that followed a team, including scientists from Fauna & Flora International, discovered a new species, the ‘Rhinopithecus strykeri - Sneezes in the Rain' snub-nosed monkey also known as the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey.

They discovered the creature in an area of northern Myanmar.

Thomas Geissmann, who is leading the taxonomic description, describes the monkey as having almost entirely blackish fur with white fur only on ear tufts and chin beard. It also has a relatively long tail, approximately 140 per cent of its body size.

The species has been named ‘Rhinopithecus strykeri' in honour of Jon Stryker, President and Founder of the Arcus Foundation who supported the project. However, in local dialects it is called mey nwoah, ‘monkey with an upturned face.'

While the species is new to science the local people know it well and claim that it is very easy to find when it is raining because the monkeys often get rainwater in their upturned noses causing them to sneeze. To avoid this they spend rainy days sitting with their heads tucked between their knees.

There are less than 300 estimated in total – making them seriously in danger of extinction. It is threatened by hunting and habitat loss, especially from logging. But the good news is that they're not unsupported. FFI says it's committed to taking immediate conservation action to save the species for future generations.

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