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New monkey species discovered in Africa


The monkey is called "lesula" by locals photo/credit: Maurice Emetshu, Hart JA, Detwiler KM, Gilbert CC, Burrell AS, Fuller JL/PA
The monkey is called "lesula" by locals photo/credit: Maurice Emetshu, Hart JA, Detwiler KM, Gilbert CC, Burrell AS, Fuller JL/PA

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

September 13, 2012 — Scientists have discovered a new species of monkey in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Lesulas share some characteristics with the owl-faced monkey. Photo/credit: Noel Rowe, Hart JA, Detwiler KM, Gilbert CC, Burrell AS, Fuller JL/PA
Lesulas share some characteristics with the owl-faced monkey. Photo/credit: Noel Rowe, Hart JA, Detwiler KM, Gilbert CC, Burrell AS, Fuller JL/PA

The monkey, called "lesula" by locals, was discovered in June 2007 in the Congo when field scientists spotted a female that had been adopted by a primary school director.

The species has been given the scientific distinction Cercopithecus lomamiensis. Researchers say it is closely related to the owl-faced monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni), which is also indigenous to the region.

Since the initial find, wild lesula have been spotted in the Congo, usually in small groups.

The species is characterized as a "shy" and "quiet" herbivore that lives in remote forests.

Lesulas are well-known to local hunters, and researchers warn that uncontrolled hunting practices could quickly lead to  the species' "catastrophic decline".

The findings have been published in PLOS One.

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