Meet the Lesula

A new species of monkey has been identified in Africa, the [second] one in 28 years, say scientists.

The primate was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo where it is known locally as a “lesula”.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, September 12, 2012 (ENS) – Scientists have discovered a new species of monkey in a remote forested part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, only the second new species of monkey to be found in Africa in the past 28 years.

Known to local residents and hunters as Lesula, the monkey has been formally named Cercopithecus [l]omamiensis. The new species is a member of the tribe Cercopithecini, commonly known as guenons.

       Captive Cercopithecus lomamiensis
                          (Photo: John Hart)


.It was named for its habitat in the Lomami forest basin. The Lesula is believed to live only within 17,000 square kilometers (6,500 square miles) of mature evergreen forests in the central DCR, between the middle Lomami and upper Tshuapa rivers.

The bright blue nether regions of a male lesula, killed by hunters [photo insert in linked page]

MUG SHOTS – The Owl Faced Monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni, Hamlyn’s Monkey) compared with the Lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) –

Christopher Gilbert, an anthropologist based at Hunter College in Manhattan, says the difference in appearance between the Lesula and Owl Face was striking.
“After comparing the skins, we immediately concluded that this was probably something different that we had seen before,” says Gilbert, an expert in primate and monkey evolution. Skulls of the Lesula and Owl Face monkey were measured with calipers and digitally drawn in 3D.
“We looked at the difference in shape and a number of landmarks in the skulls,” says Gilbert. While the Owl Face and Lesula had similar sized skulls, he says, the Lesula had significantly larger orbits and several other small, but statistically significant, differences in the hard anatomy of the skull.
The anatomical studies are backed up by genetics. Scientists at New York University and Florida Atlantic University were able trace an ancient common ancestor. Scientists believe the monkeys evolved separately after a series of rivers separated their habitats.
“The clincher was that lab and field teams were able to document significant difference in conjunction with the genetics. The monkeys were different and have been different for a couple of million years. It demonstrates that there are places in the world that we do not know much about,” says Gilbert.





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