sub-species emerges within isolated region in upper Amazon
Proposed dams and other regional development threaten the newly found tamarin
New York (July 7, 2009) -- The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today the discovery of a new
monkey in a remote region of the Amazon in Brazil.
The monkey is related to saddleback tamarins, which include several species of
monkeys known for their distinctively marked backs. The newly described
distinct subspecies was first seen by scientists on a 2007 expedition into the
state of Amazonas in northwestern Brazil.
The discovery was published in the June
online edition of the International Journal of Primatology. Authors of the
study include Fabio Röhe
of the Wildlife Conservation Society, José
de Sousa e Silva Jr. of Museu
Sampaio of the Instituto
Parquisas de Amaozônia, and Anthony B.
Rylands of Conservation
Researchers have dubbed the monkey Mura’s saddleback tamarin (saguinus
fuscicollis mura) named after the Mura Indians, the ethnic group of Amerindians of the Purus and Madeira river basins where the monkey occurs.
Historically this tribe was spread through the largest territory of any of the
Amazonian Indigenous peoples, extending from the Peruvian frontier today (Rio
Yavari) east to the Rio Trombetas.
The monkey is mostly gray and dark brown in color, with a distinctly mottled
“saddle”. It weighs 213 grams (less than ¾ of a pound) and is
240 millimeters (9 inches tall) with a 320-millimeter (12.6-inch) tail.
“The Wildlife Conservation Society is extremely proud to be part of this
exciting discovery in the Amazon,” said Dr. Avecita Chicchon, Director of WCS’s Latin
America Programs. “We hope that the discovery will draw attention
to conservation in this very fragile but biodiverse region.”
According to the study’s authors, the monkey is threatened by several
planned development projects in the region, particularly a major highway
cutting through the Amazon that is currently being paved. Conservationists fear the highway could fuel wider deforestation in the Amazon
over the next two decades. Other threats to the region include a proposed gas
pipeline and two hydroelectric dams currently in the beginning stages of
“This newly described monkey shows that even today there are still major
wildlife discoveries to be made,” said the study’s lead author, Fabio Röhe
of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “This discovery should serve
as a wake-up call that there is still so much to learn from the world’s
wild places, yet humans continue to threaten these areas with
The Wildlife Conservation Society helped establish the Mamirauá, Amanã, and
Piagaçu-Purus Sustainable Development Reserves in Brazil, which represent some of the
largest protected blocks of rainforest on the planet.
WCS researchers have discovered several new monkey species in recent years: the
Arunachal macaque, discovered in India
in late 2004; and the Madidi monkey and Kipunji discovered in Bolivia and Tanzania respectively in
2005. In 2008, Jean Boubli, who now works for WCS, discovered a new species of
uakari monkey in the Amazon and named it after noted WCS primatologist José Márcio
Brazil Program would like to acknowledge the GEOMA project at the Ministry of
Science and Technology of Brazil, for its support in the project that led to
the discovery of the monkey.
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