Arlington, Va. – Can you name the only primate species that occurs on all continents except Antarctica? The answer is ourselves: Homo sapiens. Early primate studies were based on a desire to learn more about human evolution by studying our closest living relatives. In recent years, however, research has shown that these animals are not only remarkably interesting in their own way but also an essential component of healthy forests and, therefore, extremely valuable for the vital services they provide to humankind.
The most comprehensive information on 16 families, 77 genera, 479 species and 681 taxa of primates is captured in a new book being launched by Lynx Edicions
in association with Conservation International
(CI) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
(IUCN). The third volume of the series Handbook of the Mammals of the World
is entirely dedicated to primates and presents them all in their remarkable variety of shapes, sizes, colors, habitats, feeding habits, social organization and relationship to humans. This massive 952-page book features, for the first time ever, illustrations of every single species, in addition to hundreds of photos and maps. (Note to editors: download images here)
“We are hopeful that this book, published as part of such a prestigious series, will make great strides in helping to stimulate interest in primates, and, in doing so, make a major contribution to the conservation of this important group of animals,” said Dr. Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International and Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group. “Most people don’t realize that primates are pollinators and seed dispersers, playing a fundamental role in nature and contributing to human well-being through the maintenance of healthy forests, which give us clean air, water and a stable climate.”
Primates can be found mostly in the tropics, and many of them serve as “flagship” species to proclaim the need to protect the forests where they live. The muriqui, which occurs in the heavily impacted Atlantic Forest, is the largest endemic mammal to Brazil. It travels over long distances in the forest canopy, helping to regenerate the forest as it disperses the seeds of the fruits it eats. In Madagascar, the indri is known for its loud, haunting call that can be heard from miles away. The largest tree-dwelling mammal in the world is the orangutan, which can weigh almost 200 lbs. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we find our closest living relative, the bonobo, a type of chimpanzee popularly known for its active sexual behavior. Half of all primates species, however, are threatened, primarily due to hunting and the widespread destruction of their forests.
Dr. Anthony Rylands, co-chief editor and Deputy Chair of the Primate Specialist Group, who dedicated three years of work to this publication, said: “It is a remarkable endeavor, I am privileged to have worked with those who contributed so brilliantly to this extraordinary and unique compilation and, most especially, with the artist Stephen D. Nash who illustrated for the first time and so wonderfully all the primates we know of today. Behind this celebration, however, lies the stark and dismal fact that all are now declining in numbers—so many will soon be lost forever unless the unrelenting destruction of the world’s tropical forests can be stopped—devastating as it is for the survival of both non-human and human primates.”
Available content for media:
Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Vol. 3. Primates is for sale here
Note to editors:
Content suggestion - Fun Primate Top Fives:
FIVE FUNNIEST FACES – THE JOKERS OF THE FOREST
1. Emperor Tamarins, named after Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, have a white curved “mustache” hanging down as far as their chest.
2. Proboscis monkeys have wide and long noses hanging (inconveniently) over their mouth. Their long nose is used as a resonating chamber for its loud honking calls.
3. Tarsiers must have been the inspiration for Yoda in Star Wars; they have huge forward-facing eyes, each larger than their brain.
4. Bearded Sakis display an extraordinary beard and bouffant hair style.
5. Black-and-white colobus always look disgruntled, evidently disapproving of what’s going on around them.
FIVE MOST FEARSOME - THE TOUGH GUYS OF THE PRIMATE WORLD
1. Chimpanzees coordinate in groups to hunt and kill other mammals, such as red colobus monkeys.
2. Hamadryas baboons herd their females aggressively, using neck-bites to control their movements.
3. Mandrill and drill alpha males show off their brightly colored genitalia to advertise their dominant status.
4. Golden snub-nosed monkeys have small blueish-white faces, enlarged pink lips and upturned noses.
5. Uacaris have bright red bald faces.
FIVE MOST ATHLETIC - THE PRIMATES YOU WOULD WANT ON YOUR OLYMPIC TEAM
1. Patas monkeys are the fastest primates, relying on their speed to escape from predators.
2. Indri is the largest living lemur. Its hind limbs propel it through the trees in leaps up to 30 feet.
3. Bearded Capuchins can lift heavy rocks and smash them down to crack open palm fruits.
4. Long-tailed macaques are skilled swimmers and can catch fish with their own hands.
5. Gibbons are masterful acrobats, swinging hand over hand with uninterrupted leaps through the forest canopy.
- Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature and its global biodiversity to promote the long-term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area. CI employs more than 800 staff in nearly 20+ countries on four continents and works with more than 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please see www.conservation.org
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is a publishing house committed to providing high-quality ornithology and natural history titles. Founded in 1989, Lynx has produced numerous works, often in collaboration with prestigious international organizations, and is best known for the acclaimed series Handbook of the Birds of the World, a 17-volume encyclopaedia which describes and illustrates every living species of bird in the world. Current projects include the use of the new technologies to project HBW into the digital age, and the publication of the Handbook of the Mammals of the World. For more information, please see www.lynxeds.com
The Handbook of the Mammals of the World (HMW)
will be an unprecedented reference work for the Class Mammalia. This series of eight volumes will describe every currently recognized mammal species, along with an overview of each mammalian family. It will provide up-to-date information on the systematic relationships, natural history, ecology, and current conservation status for all mammals. Every species will be illustrated and each chapter will also include many color photographs. HMW will provide comprehensive worldwide coverage by involving an international group of expert authors. Three volumes have been published so far: volume 1 (carnivores) in 2009; volume 2 (hoofed mammals) in 2011; and volume 3 (primates) in 2013. http://www.lynxeds.com/hmw/handbook-mammals-world-volume-3
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. www.iucn.org