New Venomous Nocturnal Monkey Found in Borneo
Scientists studying the elusive nocturnal primate the slow loris in the jungles of Borneo near Indonesia have recently discovered an entirely new species -- the Kayan loris.
The new species, which is a type of slow loris, releases poison from glands at its elbows which it then takes into its mouth.
The team's analysis of the primate's distinctive facial fur markings, published in the American Journal of Primatology, reveals the existence of one entirely new species, while two of species, previously considered as possible sub-species, are being officially recognized as unique.
An endangered lemur-like primate with two tongues and a toxic bite has more branches on its family tree than originally thought.
Researchers think the new species, Nycticebus kayan, went undiscovered for so long because it is nocturnal. It is the only primate with a toxic bite.
"Technological advances have improved our knowledge about the diversity of several nocturnal mammals," said Rachel Munds from the University of Missouri Columbia. "Historically many species went unrecognized as they were falsely lumped together as one species. While the number of recognized primate species has doubled in the past 25 years some nocturnal species remain hidden to science."
The recognition of these new species strongly suggests that there is more diversity yet to be discovered in the jungles of Borneo and on the surrounding islands, including the Phillipines. However, much of this territory is threatened by human activity so the possibility that more slow loris species exist in small and fragile ranges raises urgent questions for conservation efforts.
"The pet trade is a serious threat for slow lorises in Indonesia, and recognition of these new species raises issues regarding where to release confiscated Bornean slow lorises, as recognition by non-experts can be difficult," said co-author Professor Nekaris, from Oxford Brookes University.