Monkey With Human-Looking Face
A new monkey known for its humanlike face and bright blue but.t.
In 2012, the lesula monkey was found on accident by a research group led by John and Terese Hart. living in the remote forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo – an animal well-known to local нuɴтᴇʀs but until now, unknown to the outside world. When they saw the monkey, they realized that it was unlike any of the monkeys they’d seen before. The lesula was the first new recorded species of monkey in 28 years. After the lesula was discovered, many reported that it seemed familiar. The internet did what it always does, and compared the lesula to a few famous faces (among them Jake Gyllenhaal, David Schwimmer, Nicolas Cage and the Mona Lisa). Some compared the monkey to a portrait by Rembrandt. It’s something in the eyes that makes it easy to anthropomorphize the lesula, even more so than other human-esque monkeys and apes.
It took researchers three years to prove that they had indeed discovered something entirely new, distinct species and had eluded humans by extensive genetic testing and ground research. The process involved setting up cameras and recorders in the forest to observe the lesula and figure out what sounds it made. The researchers also gathered samples of skin from a de.ad lesula and from a few captive animals kept as pets by local people for further study. The researchers then compared these samples to one another using a variety of techniques to determine the evolutionary relationship between lesula and closely related species.
James Fuller, co-author of the scientific paper and a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University said:“The first indication this was a distinct species was its pelage… though similar to the Owl-faced monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni) to which it is most closely related, there are clear differences in coloration, especially in the face (lesula is lighter and the nose stripe is much less conspicuous),” said Fuller. “Previous ‘new species’ have been designated based solely on differences in appearance, but the research team wanted to take a comprehensive approach.”
From that skin’s genetic samples scientists were able to pinpoint the time when the lesula diverged from another species. It was probably because a river developed and separated them – meaning the lesula has been around for a few million years.
Lesulas do eat plants, but they don’t do a lot of swinging around in trees. The lesula actually prefers to hang out on the ground. They can, of course, climb when they choose to do so. This idiosyncrasy means that the lesula has adapted to different threats than the monkeys who live primarily in trees.
“One of our many hopes is that the discovery of lesula will highlight the diversity of rain forests that we have yet to understand, before it is too late, and to bring conservation attention to this important and extremely remote part of the world, said Fuller. “The biggest th.reat to the wildlife of this area at the moment comes from commercial bushmeat нuɴтing, a trend that has been rising steadily in recent years and that promises to increase as the human population continues to grow. Though its remoteness has, for the moment, slowed some of the decline experienced by other forests around the globe, the TL2 is relatively small, and species with small, restricted ranges (like the lesula) are especially vulnerable.”
Fuller remarked that “…we still know very little about this species’ behavior and ecology… we are only just beginning to collect data on their behavior and habits. The next few years promise to be very exciting as we learn more about this species.”