NEW MONKEY GENUS

Monkeys are among the most heavily studied wild animals on earth, and it is getting on for a century since a new species of them was last recognised by zoologists. The monkeys were discovered in Tanzania last year by Tim Davenport of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and his colleagues.

Kipunji MonkeyThe Kipunji monkey – photo Tim Davenport/WCS

The monkeys were originally named the ‘highland mangabey’. However, examination of their DNA and skeletons, proved that they are related to baboons of the Genus Papio, even though they do not look like baboons. As a result, the monkeys have now been assigned to a genus all of their own by the journal SCIENCE – Rungwecebus (after Mount Rungwe, where the first colonies were found) kipunji. The kipunji has pale grey-brown fur, with off-white fur on its belly. Sixteen colonies have been found in the Rungwe-Livingstone Forest and Ndundulu Forest Reserve. This is the first new genus to be identified amongst primates for 83 years. (Thank you Ron Fennell and Simon Hardwick for sending details of this from the Economist and the Times (May 12).

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