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White-cheeked macaque

White-cheeked macaque
Macaca leucogenys female.jpg
Adult female
Macaca leucogenys juvenile.jpg
Group of juveniles
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Macaca
Species: M. leucogenys
Binomial name
Macaca leucogenys
Li, Zhao, Fan
(2015)

The white-cheeked macaque (Macaca leucogenys) is a species of macaque found only in Mêdog County in southeastern Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India.[1][2] The white-cheeked macaque lives in forest habitats, from tropical forests to primary and secondary evergreen broad-leaved forests and mixed broadleaf-conifer forests.[3] The species was first described by its discoverers, Chinese primatologists Cheng Li, Chao Zhao, and Peng-Fei Fan, in the American Journal of Primatology in 2015.[3] It is one of twenty-three extant species in the genus Macaca, and the most recent to be formally described to science. While the species' exact conservation status has not yet been determined, it is likely threatened by poaching, deforestation, and increased human development of its habitat, much like the other primates which inhabit the area.[3]

Discovery

The white-cheeked macaque was discovered and described in 2015, making it one of the most recently discovered mammals and one of the most recently discovered primates.[4] While specimens of the creature had been observed and known for many years prior, they were believed to be members of the species Macaca assamensis, the Assam macaque. After footage captured on a series camera traps in Tibet revealed numerous physical differences between the Assam macaque and the animals caught on tape (including more prominent whiskers, thicker neck hair, and differences in the shape of the genitalia), primatologists in China declared them to be a new species.[5][6] Their research, along with a series of photographs of the species, was published in the July 2015 issue of the American Journal of Primatology.[7]

In April 2016, a group of wildlife photographers and biologists spotted and photographed the white-cheeked macaque in Arunachal Pradesh, India.[2][8] Prior to this sighting, the species was thought to exist only in Tibet.

Appearance

Physiologically, the white-cheeked macaque is similar to the other members of the genus Macaca. In terms of outward appearance, it closely resembles the Assam macaque, which is one of the reasons the two were believed to be the same species until recently. The main differences between the two include the presence of white, elongated whiskers on the face of the white-cheeked macaque, which are absent from other species. The whiskers begin to grow as the creatures approach sexual maturity, and eventually cover the whole face, giving the animals a rounded facial appearance.[5] The white-cheeked macaque also grows dense hair along its neck, while not growing any hair along its short tail. Additionally, there is a distinct difference in the shapes of the genitalia of the two species; contrary to the arrow-shaped structure present in the Assam macaque, the white-cheeked macaque displays a more rounded structure.[9] This was one of the main characteristics that allowed scientists to realize they were dealing with a new species.[3][10]

References

  1. ^ "Macaca leucogenys: New Species of Macaque Discovered in Tibet". Sci-News.com. April 16, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "New species of primate spotted in Arunachal". The Hindu. April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Li, C.; Zhao, C.; Fan, P. F. (2015). "White-cheeked macaque (Macaca leucogenys): A new macaque species from Modog, southeastern Tibet". American Journal of Primatology. 77: 753–766. doi:10.1002/ajp.22394. PMID 25809642.
  4. ^ Swatman, Rachel (February 8, 2016). "Celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Monkey with these amazing primate records". Guinness World Records. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Douglass, Michelle (9 April 2015). "Gorgeous images reveal new macaque". BBC News. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  6. ^ Depra, Dianne (April 12, 2015). "Scientists Discover New Species Of Macaque - Here's What's Unique About Them". Tech Times. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  7. ^ Li, C; Zhao, C; Fan, PF. "White-cheeked macaque (Macaca leucogenys): A new species from Medog, south Tibet". Am J Primatol. 77: 753–66. doi:10.1002/ajp.22394. PMID 25809642. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  8. ^ Abraham, Bobins (April 25, 2016). "Rare Primate Species White Cheeked Macaque Discovered In Arunachal Pradesh". India Times. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  9. ^ Park, Paula (April 9, 2015). "New monkey species revealed thanks to distinctive penis". New Scientist. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  10. ^ Osborne, Hannah (April 10, 2015). "New species of monkey - white-cheeked macaque - identified by its weird penis and dark hairy scrotum". International Business Times. Retrieved March 17, 2016.