August 25, 2011
New titi monkey discovered in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo © Júlio Dalponte.
An expedition backed by WWF-Brazil found the new titi between the Guariba River and the Roosevelt River in northwestern part of Mato Grosso, a state of Brazil known as a center of Amazon destruction.
"This incredibly exciting discovery shows just how much we still have to learn from the Amazon. WWF has been working with the government of Brazil to increase protection and improve management for the Amazon so that species like this, and thousands of others, don’t disappear before we even know about them," Meg Symington, the director of WWF’s Amazon Program said.
The new titi has yet to be named and is currently being described at the Emílio Goeldi Museum in Belem, Para state, a process which takes around 6 months. More information will be available when a paper is officially published describing the new species.
However, Júlio Dalponte, who discovered the new monkey, hints, "this primate has features on its head and tail that have never been observed before in other titi monkey species found in the same area."
The expedition, made up of 26 scientists, traveled to four protected areas in the region over 20 days and also uncovered two possible new fish species: a catfish and a tetra. In addition, the research team may have found new plants species.
In all the team recorded 208 species of fish, 313 birds, and 48 mammals, including giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), the jaguar (Panthera onca).
Unfortunately, Mato Grosso has suffered some of the highest forest destruction rates in the Amazon with forest cleared for cattle or soy. The Brazilian state is plagued by land conflict, illegal deforestation and forest degradation, poaching, and illegal fishing. Despite the influx of people, research efforts have not followed. "We do have some information on Protected Areas surrounding this region but little information on this part of the State itself. That means we must work to complete this map and fill in the gaps in our information on the region" said Dalponte.
In total the Brazilian Amazon has lost more than 700,00 square kilometers of forest, or around 18 percent of the region's cover, since the 1970s. Scientists say forest loss may be drying the Amazon, putting it at greater risk of forest fire and drought. Some scientists have warned that deforestation in conjunction with climate change could cause portions of the Amazon to 'flip' from rainforest to savanna.
A closer look at the new titi monkey. Photo © Júlio Dalponte.
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