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New species of macaque in Tibet

Discussion in 'Wildlife & Nature Conservation' started by DesertRhino150, 10 Apr 2015.

  1. DesertRhino150

    DesertRhino150 Well-Known Member

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    A new species of macaque, called the white-cheeked macaque Macaca leucogenys has been discovered after having previously been identified as Assamese macaques.

    The new species lives in Tibet, and has unique morphological characteristics such as prominent white whiskers on the cheeks and chin, thick neck hair, a short-furred tail and round instead of arrow-shaped genitalia in the males. They also have a distinct alarm call.

    The species is thought to already be threatened due to habitat destruction.

    White-cheeked macaque (Macaca leucogenys): A new macaque species from Modog, southeastern Tibet - Li - 2015 - American Journal of Primatology - Wiley Online Library

    BBC - Earth - Gorgeous images reveal new macaque
     
  2. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Very intresting news ! Thanks for sharing DesertRhino150.
     
  3. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm quite surprised, even shocked, that a new species is being described based solely on camera trap photos. As far as I can tell, no-one has actually laid eyes on this macaque. I'm not saying that this is not an actual species, but I'd definitely like to see some genetic or morphological evidence on it, rather than descriptions of white hair on its face and a differently shaped penis based just on photos. It shouldn't be that hard to get such physical evidence, and should be do-able without killing any macaques.
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    in the second link (in post #1) it says that on one occasion the researchers saw the macaques themselves and took photos with regular cameras.

    In the description there is the sentence "We are trying to obtain live specimens so that they can be observed and studied in an appropriate facility and when they die, their skins, skulls, and skeletons will be deposited at Dali University." which may answer the questions more fully.

    Regarding the differently-shaped penis, which I think in the absence of actual study of physical specimens can be the only real argument for a separate species (over simple differences in pelage), the description says only "Moreover, there is no inflection between the glans penis and shaft and the glans looks like a ring (based on three photos from only one adult male) rather than exhibiting a sagittate shape which is characteristic of the sinica species group of macaque." and "From the photos it was difficult to see a male's scrotal sac and glans penis except for one adult male and one subadult male. The subadult male's scrotal sac was dark in color or covered by dark hairs, and the shape of his glans was not clear. Based on three higher quality images and a short video taken when an adult male was groomed by a small juvenile (Fig. 6A and B), his scrotal sac either was dark in color or covered by dark hairs, similar in color to his leg (Fig. 6A and B). The glans penis is clearly visible in these photos and it is pink in color. There is no inflection between the glans penis and shaft and the glans looks like a ring (Fig. 6A) rather than a sagittate shape, suggesting that this individual is not a member of the sinica species group [Fooden, 1976, 1982] (Fig. 6C–E). From another three photos taken of the same male when he was standing in front of the camera, he is characterized by a dark scrotal sac and round glans (Fig. 6B)."

    Pretty slim if it is based only on camera-trap photos of a single animal!
     
  5. Elephas Maximus

    Elephas Maximus Well-Known Member

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    Excellent approach!
    Hope they won't forget about baculum, its shape surely differs from other species if the penis itself is different.
     
  6. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  7. wally war eagle

    wally war eagle Well-Known Member

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    the only scientific way to determine species difference is through genetic tests. Clinal variation is external color and morphological difference throughout a species population indicating subspecies.
     
  8. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    how did scientists manage before genetic tests then?? I'm pretty sure many species were differentiated before then. I could be wrong though.
     
  9. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    Read any checklist and you will be proven wrong....