New species of monkey found in remote forest looks like a (ugly) man

// September 15th, 2012 // General Science News


Newly discovered Lesula monkeyIn a rare find, scientists have identified a new species of monkey, the lesula, found in the remote forests of Congo.  It has been nearly three decades since scientists identified a new monkey species.  The lesula was known to local hunters, they just never thought to mention it to anyone else.

The Lesula's face looks quite humanThe lesula has a naked face and buttocks with a mane of long, blonde hair and eerily human-like eyes.  Researchers describe the monkey as shy and quiet.  It lives in small groups of 1-5 monkeys and feeds on vegetation.  It was first spotted in 2007 by scientists from the Peabody Museum of Natural History who noticed a strange female monkey tethered to a tree near a home.  Locals were already familiar with the monkey and told the scientists it was a “lesula”.  Later the scientists discovered another lesula in the wild and watched while a wild eagle attacked and killed it (seriously, we don’t just make this stuff up).  Researchers explained:

This was a totally unexpected find, and we knew we had something unusual and possibly unknown when we first saw the animal. But it was not until we had the genetic and morphological analyses of our collaborating team that we knew we really had a new species.

The range that the lesula inhabits (the Lomami National Park) is quite small and biologists worry that the monkey could be classified as endangered.  Thankfully, the Lomami National Park is in its final stages of being declared a protected area.  Biologists are still rooting about and are  hopeful that the previously unexplored area produces new unidentified species.

The discovery of the lesula has extended our knowledge of the evolution and ecology of African monkeys, and in particular has confirmed the importance of a previously little-known region for primate diversity.


Courtesy of BBC
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