Universidad Nacional de Colombia Professors Thomas Defler and Marta Bueno along with Javier Garcia, an undergraduate biology student in the same department, discovered a new titi monkey species (Callicebus caquetensis) in the Amazon forest of Colombia. Javier Garcia is a native of the area called Caquetá where the monkey species was discovered. He walked to an area of the upper Caquetá River using GPS and was able to hear their calls, and then found 13 groups of them. For many years the area had been used by insurgents and was considered dangerous, so exploration was not happening.
Dr. Defler said, “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. We now know that this is a unique species, and it shows the rich diversity of life that is still to be discovered in the Amazon.”
The newly discovered monkey had a red bushy beard, and is about the size of a house cat. It has grayish-brown hair, and long tail with gray markings. They are thought to be monogamous and have one baby per year. They live in trees near the Caquetá River.
The discovery was both exciting and dismaying, because there are only about 250 of the Caqueta Titi monkeys in a forest area that is being cut down to use for agriculture. The monkeys are considered to be critically endangered and at high risk for extinction.
José Vicente Rodríguez, head of science at Conservation International in Colombia said, “When world leaders meet later this year in Japan for the Convention on Biological Diversity, they must commit to the creation of many more protected areas if we want to ensure the survival of threatened creatures like this in the Amazon and around the world.” Conservation International supported the research project which led to the monkey’s discovery.
Image Credit: Javier Garcia and Conservation International