New Monkey Species Discovered In Congo Forest

In a paper published Wednesday in the open-access journal Plos One,  scientists describe the new species they discovered called 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.

“We never expected to find a new species there,” says John Hart, the lead scientist of the project. 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. Her father said it was a Lesula, well-known to hunters in that part of the forest.

“Right away I saw that this was something different. It looked a bit like a monkey from much further east, but the coloring was so different and the range was so different,” said Hart.


The Lesula had strikingly large, almost human like, eyes, a pink face and golden mane. Far to the east, across several large river systems, the Owl Face is aptly named. Its sunken eyes are set deep in a dark face, a white stripe running down from its brow to its mouth, like a line of chalk on a blackboard. Hart and his team needed science to prove their gut feeling.

The exhaustive study took three years. Christopher Gilbert, an anthropologist based at Hunter College in Manhattan, says while the Owl Face and Lesula had similar sized skulls, he says, the Lesula had significantly larger orbits and several other small, but statistically significant, differences in the hard anatomy of the skull.

The anatomical studies are backed up by genetics. Scientists at New York University and Florida Atlantic University were able trace an ancient common ancestor. Scientists believe the monkeys evolved separately after a series of rivers separated their habitats. Hart hopes that the announcement will bring a renewed effort to save central Africa’s pristine forests.

Do you find the new monkey species Lesula cute and fascinating? Share your thoughts on how Africa’s forests can be saved from loggers and hunters.

Source: CNN

Image: Science Daily

Many Human ‘Prototypes’ Discovered In Africa

Fossils from Northern Kenya show that a new species of human lived two million years ago, researchers say. The discoveries suggests that at least three distinct species of humans co-existed in Africa. The research has been published in the journal Nature.

Anthropologists have discovered three human fossils that are between 1.78 and 1.95 million years old. The specimens are of a face and two jawbones with teeth. The finds back the view that a skull found in 1972 ago is of a separate species of human, known as Homo rudolfensis. The skull was markedly different to any others from that time. It had a relatively large brain and long flat face.

But for 40 years the skull was the only example of the creature and so it was impossible to say for sure whether the individual was an unusual specimen or a member of a new species. With the discovery of the three new fossils researchers can say with more certainty that H.rudolfensis really was a separate type of human that existed around two million years ago alongside other species of humans.


For a long time the oldest known human ancestor was thought to be a primitive species, dating back 1.8 million years ago called Homo erectus. They had small heads, prominent brows and stood upright. But 50 years ago, researchers discovered an even older and more primitive species of human called Homo habilis that may have coexisted with H. erectus. Now it seems H. rudolfensis was around too and raises the distinct possibility that many other species of human also existed at the time.

This find is the latest in a growing body of evidence that challenges the view that our species evolved in a smooth linear progression from our primate ancestors. In other groups of animals many different species evolve, each with new traits, such as plumage, or webbed feet. If the new trait is better suited to the environment then the new species thrives, if not it becomes extinct.

Do you believe in the theory of human evolution? What could this new discovery mean for human history?

Source: BBC News

Image: Australian Museum