New monkey species discovered in Peru

A new species of monkey has been discovered living in a remote stretch of the Peruvian Amazon and, unlike other recent primate discoveries, it is not facing extinction.

Researchers from the international NGO Proyecto Mono Tocón encountered the previously unknown species of titi monkey during an expedition down the Urubamba River in Central Peru. The conservationists were able to identify the monkey as a new species due to its geographical location and distinctive colouring.

The Urubamba brown titi (Callicebus urubambensis), which has been named after the river where it was found, is slightly smaller than a domestic cat and differs from other titi species in that it has dark brown fur and a jet black face.

The monkey was found in a remote region of the Peruvian Amazon known as the Madre do Dios, which is renowned for its rich biodiversity. The area is hemmed in by two rivers, which may have allowed different species of titi monkey to evolve separately by acting as natural barriers between them.

Brown titis were known to exist in Peru but were previously thought to be the same species as the Brazilian brown titi. However, the finding, which has been recorded in the journal Primate Conservation, disproves this theory.

While new primate species are often already threatened with extinction at the time of discovery, this is not the case with the Urubamba brown titi as it inhabits a sparsely populated area that is largely unaffected by hunting.

During the expedition, the conservationists also rediscovered a ‘forgotten’ species of titi—Toppin’s titi monkey—living on the other side of the Urubamba River, which had not been sighted for 100 years.

Commenting on the discoveries, Julio V. Tello-Alvarado, Head Researcher at Proyecto Mono Tocón said: ‘If we want to protect our nature in Peru, we will first need to know what lives in our country. This kind of research is the basis of future effective conservation strategies.’

To date, a total of 34 species of titi have been discovered in South America, making it the largest group of monkey on the continent.

Titis are territorial primates that live in small family groups and mate for life.