By David McKenzie
Scientists are claiming they have discovered a new species of monkey living in the remote forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo -- an animal well-known to local hunters but until now, unknown to the outside world.
In a paper published Wednesday in the open-access journal Plos One, the scientists describe the new species that they call Cercopithecus Lomamiensis, known locally as the Lesula, whose home is deep in central DR Congo's Lomami forest basin. The scientists say it is only the second discovery of a monkey species in 28 years.
In an age where so much of the earth's surface has been photographed, digitized, and placed on a searchable map on the web discoveries like this one by a group of American scientists this seem a throwback to another time.
"We never expected to find a new species there," says John Hart, the lead scientist of the project, "but the Lomami basin is a very large block that has had very little exploration by biologists."
Hart says that the rigorous scientific process to determine the new species started with a piece of luck, strong field teams, and an unlikely field sighting in a small forest town.
"Our Congolese field teams were on a routine stop in Opala. It is the closest settlement of any kind to the area of forest we were working in," says Hart.
The team came across a strange looking monkey tethered to a post. It was the pet of Georgette, the daughter of the local school director.
She adopted the young monkey when its mother was killed by a hunter in the forest. More....