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New Monkey Species Already Believed to be Endangered

Dec 29, 2014 02:20 PM EST

What is believed to be a new monkey species in the Amazon rainforest may in fact already be endangered, according to researchers, due to deforestation in the region.

According to a new study from the University of Mato Grosso, this previously undiscovered primate was spotted on three separate occasions in a part of the Amazon rainforest that until now has been largely unstudied. Scientists believe they have found a new type of saki monkey, given its unique calico coloring, though genetic testing will confirm this belief.

"We sent the first pictures to an expert, but everything suggests that it is a new species. The characteristics are very different," biologist Manoel dos Santos Filho told Brazilian news outlet G1 Globo.

Saki monkey is the common name given to any primate that is a member of the Pithecia genus, according to FactZoo.com. These animals live in rainforests ranging across South America from South Colombia to Central Brazil. They can reach up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) long and weigh about 4.4 pounds. And due to their elusive nature, as they rarely leave the trees that they live in, it's no surprise that there are unknown species of saki monkeys.

Although researchers know almost nothing about this possible new species, they do know that it is likely nearing extinction. The Dodo reports that the region in which these primates were found is among the hardest hit by deforestation, with 85 percent of the forest destroyed. According to some estimates, as many as 0.2 to 0.3 percent of the various species that live in the Amazon go extinct each year.

Nature World News recently reported that Amazon deforestation grew 29 percent last year, the first time the rate has increased since 2008. And though efforts are being made to curb this tree clearing, it may be too late for this mysterious monkey.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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