New Primates Discovered in Brazil's Forest

4/22/2000

Washington, DC – The discovery of two new marmoset species in Brazil's Amazon rain forest was announced today, on the 30th anniversary of Earth Day and the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil by the Portugese. The primates were found in the Rio Madeira Basin in South Central Amazonia.

"These findings remind us of how much we have yet to learn about the Earth's diversity of life. Even among our closest relatives, the primates, which have been closely studied, there are still new species to be discovered," said Russell A. Mittermeier, CI President and Chairman of the Primate Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

One of the new species, Callithrix manicorensis, is noted for its white or silvery upper body, a light gray cap on its head, yellow to orange under parts and black tail. The other, Callithrix acariensis has a snow white upper body and under parts, gray back with a stripe running to its knee and a black tail with a bright orange patch at the end. Both species are small primates, approximately the size of a squirrel.

Descriptions of the species are being published by primatologists Marc van Roosmalen, Tomas van Roosmalen, Russell A. Mittermeier and Anthony Rylands in the journal, Neotropical Primates. The marmosets were originally found in 1996, in Amazonian communities where they were being kept as pets. The scientists immediately recognized them as new to science. They have been sighted in both dense primary rain forest and at forest edges, close to human communities. Both are named after the locations where they were found in the wild: Manicore and the Rio Acari.

Including these marmosets, 10 new monkeys have been discovered in Brazil since 1990, bringing the total number of primate species to 79. With 25 percent of all known species, Brazil has the greatest diversity of primates in the world.

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