From New Scientist:
7 August 2015
New species of titi monkey discovered in remote Peruvian forest
Titis are the largest group of South American monkeys, and the discovery pushes the number of known species to 34, though the exact number is still a matter of some debate. Most are the size of a domestic cat, live in small family groups and defend their territories with howl-like roars.
“Its appearance is very distinct from other titis, the entire body and tail are much darker, and the face is all black,” says co-discoverer Jan Vermeer, coordinator of the Peru-based primate research programme, Proyecto Mono Tocón.
Each titi species has a specific colour pattern, and these patterns seem to be evolutionarily important.
Surprisingly, the new monkey seems to be common along a swathe of forest some 350 kilometres long.
“So often when a new monkey is discovered it is already threatened with extinction” says Vermeer. “This is a remote area with very little hunting, so for once this is not the case.”
The region in which the research was conducted, the Madre do Dios section of the Peruvian Amazon, is an area of extraordinary biological richness, with many species restricted to the forests between two large rivers. The width of the rivers – and the voracious piranhas that live in them – provide natural barriers to dispersion.
The expedition also allowed scientists to study another titi monkey species for the first time since it was described 100 years ago, the Toppin’s titi monkey (Callicebus toppini).
Vermeer and colleagues hope the discoveries will shed light on titi monkey evolution and dispersal, as well as help raise awareness of this remote and little-studied region.
“Titi monkeys are small and discreet. We are only just beginning to understand the factors driving their diversity,” says Stephen Ferrari of the Sergipe Federal University in Brazil. “A few decades ago, only five titi species were known. I think many more will be discovered as we explore southern Amazonia’s biologically uncharted forests.”
Journal reference: Primate Conservation