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New Mammalian Discoveries

New Mammalian Discoveries

15th November 2010
The Chinese Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey

The Chinese Golden
Snub-Nosed Monkey

When 2010 was first made the Year of Biodiversity, who would have known that such a wealth of knowledge into the lives of other animals would come to light. Thousands of new species were discovered last year but it is quite rare today that new mammalian species are being documented, particularly in areas where their native habitats are severely under threat.

So it was a real surprise when during this year's Myanmar Primate Conservation Program, a new species of snub-nosed monkey was reported by local hunters who had never seen the animal before. After further investigation, researchers found that this new species of snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) was unique from others not only by it's upturned nostrils, but also the fact that they are usually only found in China and Vietnam and have never been documented in Myanmar before.

Kachin State, North Myanmar

Kachin State, North

The small population of around 300 individuals, is thought to have been isolated from other snub-nosed monkey species by two of Asia's largest rivers, the Salween and the Mekong. These black monkeys differ from their relatives as they have long tails, white ear tufts, chin beards and wide upturned nostrils that are said to cause them to sneeze when it rains. All snub-nosed monkeys are Critically Endangered species mainly due to hunting and habitat loss.

Meanwhile, on the equally isolated island of Madagascar, researchers have been visiting it's biggest lake since 2004 studying what could be the world's rarest carnivore. There are thought to only be two individuals inhabiting the demising wetlands, which this year, has been formally identified as a new species known as the Durrell's Vontsira, a mongoose-like mammal related to the other vontsira species on the island and named in honour of conservationist Gerald Durrell.

A European Mouse-Eared Bat

A European
Mouse-Eared Bat

And finally, in the moist forests of north-western Ecuador, what is thought to be one of the smallest species of mouse-eared bats in South America has been formally identified as a new species (Myotis diminutus) after the first specimen was collected in 1979. After 31 years, it has finally been given it's own name but is thought to be seriously under threat from habitat degradation. It is one of five mammalian species to be found in the area in recent years.