Entries in Monkeys (2)


‘Gorgeous’ New Monkey Discovered in Africa

M. Emetshu/PLOS ONE(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- The world’s newest-known monkey is a shy creature with bright-blue buttocks that lives quietly in the remote rain forests of central Africa, according to the American researchers who discovered a new monkey species.

Cercopithecus Lomamiensis, locally called the lesula, is barefaced and has a long nose and an aquamarine backside.  It is well-known to hunters in the Lomami forest basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but researchers said the area has had little biological exploration and the species was unknown to those outside the region.

Lead researcher John Hart of Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation was not in the wild when he first spotted the curious monkey in 2007.  He was fanning through photographs brought back from the field and noticed something unusual about a young female monkey being kept in a village as a 13-year-old girl’s pet.

“When I first saw it, I immediately knew it was something new and different. I just didn’t know how significant it was,” Hart told OurAnimalPlanet.

Hart and fellow researchers spent the next five years doing field, genetic and anatomical research to find out more about the mysterious monkey.  Their discovery was made known to the world this week when they published their research in the open-access PLoS ONE journal.

Hart calls the lesula, which has a blond mane and bright-red patch on its lower back, a “gorgeous” animal.  Male lesulas can weigh up to 15 pounds, twice that of female lesulas. Males also have bright blue buttocks, which stand out in the dark, dense rain forest they roam.

Researchers hope the discovery of the lesula will lead to its protection. While it is not considered an endangered species, Hart says it is vulnerable because of the high demand for bush meat in the relatively small area it inhabits.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Monkeys to Track Fallout from Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Wild monkeys have been enlisted by Japanese researchers to obtain detailed readings of radiation levels in forests near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Professor Takayuki Takahashi and his team of scientists at Fukushima University are fitting nearly 1,000 animals with radiation meters and GPS transmitters in order to track the spread of radiation leaked from March’s nuclear accident -- the worst in Japan’s history.

Until now, radiation monitoring has been conducted primarily by air, using helicopters equipped with testing devices.  Takahashi says aerial monitoring can track radiation across a wide area, but it only gives a general idea of radiation levels on the ground, not specifics on its movement.

“The monkeys can help us get more accurate readings in areas that aren’t so accessible,” Takahashi said.  “We’ll get a better idea of how radiation is spread by rain, by plants, by rivers in the forest.”

Researchers also hope to monitor the amount of radiation exposure in wild animals.

The project is being launched in partnership with Minamisoma, one of the cities hardest hit by the nuclear disaster.  Radiation fears prompted more than half of its 67,000 residents to evacuate in Fukushima’s aftermath.  A third of the city sits inside the 12-mile government mandated exclusion zone deemed too dangerous for people to live in.  In the larger Fukushima prefecture, more than 80,000 residents have been displaced by the nuclear disaster.

With 14 monkey colonies in Minamisoma’s forests alone, Takahashi is hopeful his researchers will get a broad spectrum of readings, from the ground level to the highest trees.  The collars equipped with radiation meters and GPS transmitters will be detachable by remote control, but the plan is to keep the devices on the animals for decades.

Takahashi says his team will begin monitoring levels next spring.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio