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Highly threatened species of marmoset discovered in the Amazon

Scientists have discovered a new species of marmoset hidden away in the forests of the Brazilian Amazon, and the monkeys are already highly threatened by habitat loss, according to a study from the Wildlife Conservation Society

The small monkey, which is now known as Schneider’s marmoset, has been found in the “arc of deforestation.” This is a region along the southern edge of the Amazon that is rapidly being deforested and converted for agriculture. The experts report that this particular area accounts for half of the global land use change in the past 30 years.

The discovery of Schneider’s marmoset was made by a team of researchers led by Rodrigo Costa Araújo, who is currently a researcher at Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. 

The marmoset has been named after Professor Horacio Schneider, a pioneer and major contributor to the research of diversity and evolution of monkeys.

The Amazon marmosets – which belong to the genus Mico – are among the more diverse groups of monkeys. This group is found only in the threatened forests of the arc of deforestation. 

There is currently no conservation response to address the habitat losses that threaten the future of Mico monkeys, mainly because they are poorly studied, and the total number of Amazon marmoset species remains unknown. 

According to the experts, further research is needed to assess the conservation status of M. schneideri and to investigate the southern portion of its geographical distribution. The first step toward protecting the endangered monkeys of the Amazon is a better understanding of exactly how many species exist. 

“There are 146 primate species and subspecies in Amazonia, representing 20 percent of the global primate diversity and comprising the most diverse primate fauna in the world,” wrote the study authors.

“Nonetheless, primate diversity remains understudied in Amazonia, as manifested by regular discoveries of new species. This incomplete taxonomic knowledge and the scarcity of basic ecological and distributional data for even well-known species is a major impediment to the design and implementation of effective conservation actions.”

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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