Scientists discover new species of monkey in Amazon
New species found in area overrun with illegal loggers
A new monkey species discovered on a WWF expedition. © Julio Dalponte
August 2011. Scientists on an expedition backed by WWF-Brazil to one of the last unexplored areas in the Brazilian Mid-west have discovered a new species of monkey.
The monkey, belonging to the Callicebus genus, was found in the northwest of Mato Grosso State and is one of the great results from the studies undertaken during an expedition in December 2010 to the Guariba-Roosevelt Extractive Reserve.
In May, WWF-Brazil and the scientist who made the discovery, Julio Dalponte, officially handed over the specimen to the Emílio Goeldi Museum in Belem, Para. "By integrating this animal to a reputable collection such as that of the Goeldi museum we have taken an important step towards gaining better knowledge of the fauna in the northwest Mato Grosso region which is still a puzzle with many pieces missing", Mr Dalponte explained.
Dalponte remarked that the discovery of the new species increases the potential biodiversity of the northwest of Mato Grosso and with it the importance of conservation in the area.
"We do have some information on Protected Areas surrounding this region but little information on this part of the State itself. That means we must work to complete this map and fill in the gaps in our information on the region" said Dalponte.
"Never been observed before"
The primate specimen was found in an area between the courses of the Guariba River and the Roosevelt River, two of the most important water courses in the north-western part of Mato Grosso state.
Dalponte noted "This primate has features on its head and tail that have never been observed before in other titi monkey species found in the same area".
The animal will be the object of studies designed to provide a detailed description of its characteristics to mammalian zoology experts and primatologists worldwide. The study of the species will take about six months to conclude. The process of publishing the discovery in specialised scientific journals can take up to one year from the time the papers are submitted till the time they are approved for publication by the editing committees of scientific journals and reviews.
Other discoveries - Fish and plants
The discovery was made during a 20 day expedition in December 2010 to four Protected Areas in the north-west of Mato Grosso state. The aim of the expedition was to gather information to support the improvement of the management plans for these areas.
The expedition team of 26 people was made up of researchers and support staff and together covered around 950km of forest and also discovered suspected new fish and plant species and five animal species under threat of extinction.
Forty-eight different species of mammals were confirmed to be living in the region, including armadillos, anteaters, deer and monkeys and the primate species that is being considered as new to science.
The team members investigating the region's fish registered 208 species, of which 192 have had their identities confirmed and 16 are still being processed. Among these last 16 there may also be two previously undescribed species. The team's bird specialists identified 313 bird species, including two migratory species and some that had previously only been registered in other South American countries.
The team studying fish also brought two possible new species back to the laboratories; one is a catfish and the other a tetra, a small brightly coloured freshwater fish. Other very small fish were found, known locally as ‘piaus' and they too may have new species among them.
The expedition also discovered several threatened species, according to the expedition's preliminary report signed by the biologist in charge of the mammal species studies Júlio Dalponte. These animals were: the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), the jaguar (Panthera onca) and the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis).
The area the expedition team explored lies within an area known as ‘Deforestation Crescent' which is overrun with illegal loggers and occupied by huge cattle farms. Violence associated to land tenure conflicts and lack of health or education services and electricity supplies are very common throughout the area. On top of that there are environmental problems like predatory forms of fishing, contamination of river water, deforestation, unchecked expansion of agricultural activities and lack of surveillance and inspection on the part of the state and federal environment authorities.