Adorable Monkey New to Science Identified in Threatened Rainforest

Researchers in the Brazilian rainforest describe a previously undocumented species of titi monkey whose habitat faces man-made threats

Red Titi Monkeys
These coppery titi monkeys have a red beards similar to those sported by the newly discovered Milton’s titi monkey. The new species can be further identified by a light gray stripe across their foreheads and a bright orange tail. Christian Hütter/imageBROKER/Corbis

The locals know them as “zogue-zogues." These little guys live in the central-southern area of the Brazilian Amazon and have orange tails, light gray foreheads and dark ocher beards covering the throat and bottom half of their faces, reports Environmental News. Until recently, the little red-hued primates were unknown to science. 

Researcher Julio César Dalponte first noticed the uniquely colored animal in 2011. He suspected that it was a titi monkey, a primate group common to South America that live in trees and grow to between nine and 18 inches. But he didn’t recognize his specimen as one of the over 30 identified species.

After several data-collecting expeditions, a team of scientists published a study deeming the animal a newly identified species of titi. They named it Callicebus miltoni, or Milton’s titi monkey, after the Brazilian primatologist Dr. Milton Thiago de Mello.

The primate’s habitat is at considerable risk. Ranging through the “lowland rainforest between the Roosevelt and Aripuanã rivers and south of the Amazon River,” according to Environmental News only about 57 percent of the monkey’s habitat is protected.

Much of the rest of its homeland faces the highest rates of deforestation in the Amazon, due in large part to the soy and cattle industries. The monkeys are also—perhaps most—threatened by development projects planned by the Brazilian government’s “plans to construct several new hydroelectricity dams, including one on the Roosevelt River, and an extended road system within the Amazon,” writes environmental news agency Monga Bay.

The monkey are unlikely to to migrate to safer grounds: they are not known to swim or travel over mountains.

"It will take more than luck if we are to keep making scientific finds like this,” said researcher Felipe Ennes Silva, one of the study’s authors. “The rainforest is under threat like never before, and it will take dedicated, hard work – not just by conservationists but by the government and every other sector of society, too – to make sure that this forest ecosystem can continue to support a wide diversity of life and help regulate our planet’s climate.” 

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