Science, Tech & Environment

New Monkey Species Found in Central Africa

Zoom in close on Central Africa for our Geo Quiz.

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We're looking for the name of large lowland rainforest in the center of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"This forest is a big block of forest to the south of Kisengani and to the north of Kindu," said conservation biologist John Hart. "There are a number of large mammals that live there, such as the okapi which is the Congo's rainforest giraffe, the bonobo, an ape endemic to the Congo. Those species are found in that same forest."

Scientists have now found another previously unknown primate in this rainforest: a new species of monkey. The wild Lesula monkey is only the second new monkey species to be discovered in Africa in nearly three decades.

The African lowland rainforest we asked you about is the Lomami Forest that extends along the west bank of the Lomami River ( a tributary of the Congo River). The name Lomami is embedded in the scientific, Latin name given to the newly discovered species of monkey, the Cercopithecus Lomamiensis.

John and Therese Hart are conservation biologists based in the DRC, the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the Lukuru Wildlife Research Project.

They first came into contact with the primate, which has a naked face surrounded by a mane of thick blond hair, back in 2007 when they saw a caged female at the home of a primary school director.

To their surprise, genetic tests later confirmed it was actually a new variety of monkey. Later they identified and observed the species in the wild.

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    A new species of monkey (Cercopithecus lomamiensis), known locally as the lesula. (Photo: Hart JA, Detwiler KM, Gilbert CC/PA)

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    (L) Adult male, Yawende, DRC. Photo: M. Emetshu. (R) Subadult female, Opala, DRC. Photo: J. A. Hart

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    Cercopithecus hamlyni, captured east of Kisangani, DRC (left), and Cercopithecus lomamiensis, captured near Obenge, DRC (right). White nose stripe is variably present in juvenile C. hamlyni from the Kisangani region. Photos by John Hart.