August 13th, 2010
10:42 AM ET

Red-bearded monkey discovered, but risks extinction

A new species of monkey that sports a bushy red beard has been discovered in the Amazon, researchers announced this week, but the primate is at risk of becoming extinct.

The species of titi monkey, Callicebus caquetensis, is a cat-size creature and has grayish-brown hair. Its long tail is stippled with gray, and it has a bushy red beard around its cheeks.

Unlike other monkeys closely related to it, Callicebus caquetensis does not have a white bar on its forehead, environmental nonprofit group Conservation International said Thursday. The finding was also published in the journal Primate Conservation.

Hints that an unknown primate species was living in Colombia’s Caquetá region, close to the border with Ecuador and Peru, surfaced 30 years ago, but researchers were never able to access the region because of violence and insurgent fighting.

It was only two years ago that professors Thomas Defler, Marta Bueno and their student, Javier García, from the National University of Colombia were able to travel up the upper Caquetá River. They used GPS to find their way around the area, searching for the monkeys on foot and listening for their calls.

"This discovery is extremely exciting because we had heard about this animal, but for a long time we could not confirm if it was different from other titis,” Defler said in a statement.

Unlike most primates, these titi monkeys form lifelong relationships. Researchers reported that pairs are often seen sitting on a branch with their tails entwined. They usually have one baby per year.

But this newly discovered species is struggling to survive because of deforestation. It is estimated that fewer than 250 Caquetá titi monkeys exist – a healthy population should be in the thousands.

The small population size and the fragmented habitat should qualify the species as critically endangered, according to criteria from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which means that it faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.

"This discovery is particularly important because it reminds us that we should celebrate the diversity of Earth but also we must take action now to preserve it," said José Vicente Rodrígue, head of science at Conservation International in Colombia and president of the Colombia Association of Zoology.

Listen to the Callicebus caquetensis morning call here.

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Filed under: Animals • Colombia • Environment
soundoff (189 Responses)
  1. Marney

    Ahhhh! Looks like my ex-girl friend!

    August 16, 2010 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. LiteSeeker

    Since we're talking about monkeys (derived from the old company policy thing):

    Start with a cage containing 5 monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string & place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs & start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all the other monkeys with cold water. After awhile another monkey makes the attempt with same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

    Now, put the cold water away. Remove 1 monkey from the cage & replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana & wants to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt & attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

    Next, remove another of the original 5 monkeys & replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs & is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Likewise,replace a 3rd original monkey with a new one, then a 4th, then the 5th. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he’s attacked.

    Most of the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they’re participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know, that’s the way it’s always been done around here.

    And that, my fellow monkeys, is how Congress operates. We need to REPLACE all the monkeys in Nov.

    August 16, 2010 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
    • KING

      I thought your big objection to Obama was that he was too inexperienced to know how it's always been done around here? We threw out Cheney and Bush and elected an outsider, just like you claim you wanted. Happy yet?

      August 16, 2010 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. KING

    Picture #2 is me first thing in the morning

    August 16, 2010 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Graffoid

    The sad thing is we knew 30 years ago about the possibility of these monkeys existence, but as we couldn't stop killing each other (and cutting down there habitat) they won't survive in the wild.

    August 17, 2010 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Greg G.

    The primate that NEEDS to go extinct is busy trying to look witty on this message board.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. jc

    I bet they taste like chicken.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hugh Jorgan

    I bet they taste good!

    September 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
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