Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Images of Live Myanmar Snub-Nosed Monkey Finally Revealed

Two years ago, a new species of snub nosed monkey was described by scientists and was named Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri). When it was first described, there were no image of living specimen of this species in existence. The team who described this new species illustrated the new species based on field sightings and a dead carcass retrieved from a local village before it goes to the dinner table.

Myanmar snub-nosed monkeys. Illustrated based on field sightings and a dead carcass.
 Image from Martin Aveling/Fauna & Flora International.
Recently, researchers from Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) and People Resources and Conservation Foundation (PRCF) were able to use camera traps to capture photos of these elusive monkeys from the mountains of Kachin State in Burma., near China.

The pelage of R. strykeri is entirely black except for a white tuft on their ears, chin beard and the perineal end. It has a relatively long tail, about 140% of its body. R. strykeri is the first species of the Rhinopithecus genus to be found in Myanmar. The other four species (R. roxellana, R. bieti, R. brelichi and R. avunculus) are found in China and Vietnam. R. strykeri's range is limited only to the Maw River area. There are estimated about 260 to 330 individuals of R. strykeri left in the wild, making them Critically Endangered according to IUCN.

Not much else is known about this elusive species besides some field sightings and knowledge from the locals. According to the locals, the upturned nose of these monkeys caused them to sneeze when it rains. This is a fatal giveaway because hunters are able to find the location of these elusive monkeys. To avoid getting rain water into their nose, R. strykeri would sit with their heads tucked in between their legs.

One of the images of Myanmar snub-nosed monkey captured by camera traps.
Photo credit: FFI/BANCA/PRCF
These images are surprisingly eerie especially since they are in black and white, and that these monkeys just seem so ... out of this world given that they have little to no nose (hence named snub nosed). Some have nicknamed these monkeys "Michael Jackson" monkeys, for obvious reason.

One of the images of Myanmar snub-nosed monkey captured by camera traps. Image shows what appears to be two adults and two offspring. Are these two adults mothers carrying their offspring?
Photo credit: FFI/BANCA/PRCF
There are more images of P. strykeri on the Huffington Post site:  Myanmar Snub-Nosed Monkey Photos Reveal Recently Discovered Primate

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