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Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey - Rhinopithecus strykeri
Topic Started: Jan 7 2012, 03:04 PM (2,639 Views)
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Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey - Rhinopithecus strykeri

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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Rhinopithecus
Species: R. strykeri

Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Naming and discovery
The species came to the attention of a team of scientists allied to the "Myanmar Primate Conservation Program" researching the status of the Hoolock Gibbon in early 2010. The team, led by Swiss primatologist Thomas Geissman and Ngwe Lwin of the Myanmar Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association, were supported by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the People Resources and Conservation Foundation. The species has been given the binomial name Rhinopithecus strykeri in honour of philanthropist Jon Stryker, president and founder of the Arcus Foundation which also sponsored the project.

The specimen most closely examined was the skull (with mandible) and skin of a gutted adult male obtained from hunters in Pade, subsequently deposited in the Anthropological Institute and Museum of the University of Zürich. Additional sample skulls of animals killed some three years earlier, one male and one female, were also collected along with a bag he had made out of the skin of a juvenile caught in January 2010, all obtained in Htantan village.

The discovery team encountered seven live specimens, including an infant, but these moved out of sight before they could be photographed or studied in detail.

The monkey's fur is mostly black. Its crown consists of a thin, high, forward-curved crest of long, black hairs. It has protruding white ear tufts, a mostly naked face with pale pink skin, a “moustache” of whitish hairs above the upper lip, and a distinct white chin beard. The perineal area is white and clearly defined, and the limbs are mostly black; the inner sides of the upper arms and upper legs are blackish brown.

Rhinopithecus strykeri's lips are prominent, and the nose upturned, allegedly causing the animal to sneeze in rainy weather.[7] Its tail is approximately 1.4 times the body length: the first sample, an adult male, has a head-body length of 55.5 cm, and a tail 78 cm long.

The only known specimens exist in three or four groups within a 270 sq km range at 1,700 to 3,200 m above sea level in the eastern Himalayas, in the north-eastern section of Kachin State, the northernmost part of Myanmar (Burma). The species is isolated from other species of snub-nosed monkeys by the Mekong and the Salween rivers, but shares the area with other monkey species: Shortridge's Langur, Stump-tailed Macaque, Assam Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, and Northern Pig-tailed Macaque. The known population is estimated at 260 to 330 individuals. This is the first species of the Rhinopithecus genus to be found in Myanmar: the other 4 species, Golden, Black, Gray and Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkeys, are found in China and Vietnam.

The species spend summer months in temperate mixed forests at upper altitudes of their range, and descend to lower ground in the winter to escape snow.

Deforestation due to logging operations, isolation and hunting by local humans for food are considered dangers to the small extant population. The known population size of 260-330 individuals qualifies this species for classification as Critically Endangered by IUCN.


New species of monkey sneezes when it rains

A new species of snub-nosed monkey that sneezes when it rains has been discovered in the remote Himalayan forests of Burma.

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The monkey, measuring almost two feet high with a tail even longer than its body size, has an extraordinary upturned nose and full lips. It is the largest snub-nosed monkey species in the world.

Little is known about the habits of the black monkey with a white beard, but locals say it is easy to find the animals because it sneezes when it rains.

To avoid getting rainwater in their noses they spend rainy days sitting with their heads tucked between their knees, according to locals.

Rhinopithecus Strykeri, that is known in the local dialect as monkey with an upturned face, was found by scientists from Flora and Fauna International investigating gibbons populations in forests up to 10,000ft above sea level.

Villagers talked about a monkey that was well known for making a lot of noise when it rained and showed the researchers bodies hunted for meat.

Further investigation revealed an estimated population of 260-330 individuals, meaning that it is classified as critically endangered by the United Nations.

The area where the monkeys were found has been closed to the world for decades, which is why the monkey has not been discovered. It is under threat from illegal logging, as well as hunting for food and Chinese medicines.

Mark Rose, Chief Executive of Fauna & Flora International said it could go extinct before anything is known about the rare monkey, such as why it has an upturned nose.

“We are committed to taking immediate conservation action to safeguard the survival of this important new species together with our partners and local communities in Burma,” he said.
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First Pictures: Live Snub-Nosed Monkeys Caught on Camera

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Snubby in the Flesh

Photograph courtesy FFI/BANCA/PRCF

A snub-nosed monkey crouches in a mountain jungle in northern Myanmar (Burma) this past spring in one of several pictures of the species released this week. The photos are said to be the first ever of live snub-nosed monkeys.

Discovered two years ago, the species—nicknamed "snubby"—was previously known only from dead specimens. So conservation group Flora & Fauna International (FFI) set up camera traps to try to catch the elusive animals on film.

"I did not expect us to get anything," said FFI wildlife photographer Jeremy Holden.

But the fourth camera Holden and his team checked contained a blurry picture of a monkey—and a camera set higher in the jungle captured the above image.

"Most people are disappointed in the quality" of the photograph, a detail of which is shown above. "But in my mind, the monkey looking like a small gargoyle in the corner of the frame is one of the best pictures I've ever got," Holden said.

"It hints at the fragile nature of this species."

Snub-Nosed Babies

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Another camera-trap picture shows snub-nosed monkeys carrying infants.

These pictures "confirm observations from local hunters that the snub-nosed monkey species do come to the ground, especially in summer to eat bamboo shoots," Frank Momberg, FFI's Myanmar program director, said by email.

"Not only does this photo confirm the presence of the species alive in the wild, but also that the population is reproducing, which is good news for the future of this population."

Monkey in Trouble?

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Only about 300 snub-nosed monkeys (pictured, an individual caught by camera trap) are thought to remain in the wild, conservationists say.

Though the species' habitat is now mostly pristine jungle, logging for high-value trees is taking place not far from where the camera traps were set, FFI's Momberg said.

The Myanmar Forest Department supports the idea of designating a new national park, but "this process requires time, while logging needs to stop as soon as possible," he added.

Even if logging is not directly affecting the monkeys' habitats, the loggers' roads "allow easy access for hunters," noted photographer Holden.

The monkeys are also at risk of being hunted and sold for traditional Chinese medicine, he said, though they are currently less valuable than the commonly hunted macaque. Snub-nosed monkeys are also known to have been killed for food.

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Another snub-nosed monkey and her baby travel the jungle. Little is known about the species, especially because its population is spread out over a relatively wide range.

However, the animals are easy to find a rainstorm, since their upturned noses catch water and cause them to sneeze.

Momberg added that, after a conservation-awareness program was held for villagers in December, "local people now feel proud of harboring this newly discovered, rare primate, and said they would stop hunting" the monkey.

FFI will be offering small village-development grants to communities that sign agreements to conserve the snub-nosed monkeys and their habitat.

"We have our ears on the ground [to monitor] whether the hunting really stops."

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New study reveals adaptations for snub-nosed monkeys

Date: August 23, 2016
Source: Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)

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This is a Yunnan snub-nosed monkey.
Credit: Ming Li

The exotic and colorful snub-nosed monkey spends its days foraging about the treetop in the mountain forests in China, Myanmar and Vietnam. Though once widespread, this endangered species is only limited to fragmental mountain forests, and the highest altitude (up to 4,500 meters) of any primate, making them a fascinating subject for evolutionary biologists to study to reveal the genetics behind their adaptations.

Five living species with different census population sizes are commonly recognized: R. roxellana, the Sichuan or golden snub-nosed monkey, totaling about 25,000 individuals; R. brelichi, the gray snub-nosed monkey (800 individuals); R. bieti, the black or Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (2,000 individuals); R. avunculus, the ultra rare Tonkin snub-nosed monkey (200 individuals) and R. strykeri, Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (300 individuals).

In a heroic effort, authors Ming Li, Ruigiang Li et al. have now sequenced, assembled and analyzed the mutations in the genomes of 38 wild snub-nosed monkeys (from genome mapping of 42 individuals: 27 golden, 4 gray, 2 Myanmar and 9 black) from four different endangered species of snub-nosed monkeys -the largest investigation into primate genomics outside of the great apes. The findings were published in the advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution.

They found a similar amount of harmful mutations among different snub-nosed monkeys as well as reduced genetic diversity compared to other primates, which is indicative of having suffered a severe population bottleneck or possible inbreeding. By reconstructing their evolutionary history over the past 2 million years, including major climatic glacier movements, geology (uplifting of the Tibetan plateau) and retreats likely drove population isolation and demography. In one species, the black snub-nosed monkey (about 2,000 individuals are found in the wild), they identified several hypoxia-related genes that allowed them to thrive in the highest altitudes (a narrow region 3,400- 4,500 meters above sea level in a narrow region between the Yangtze and Mekong rivers within the Tibetan plateau) than any other nonhuman primate. This is despite the challenges associated with hypothermia, hypoxia and finding food in the freezing temperatures of winter.

The study was the first to profile this endangered primate in great detail to reveal the genetic diversity, demography and adaptation or this exotic, rare primate.

Story Source: Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "New study reveals adaptations for snub-nosed monkeys." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160823212915.htm (accessed August 26, 2016).

Journal Reference:
Xuming Zhou, Xuehong Meng, Zhijin Liu, Jiang Chang, Boshi Wang, Mingzhou Li, Pablo Orozco-terWengel, Shilin Tian, Changlong Wen, Ziming Wang, Paul A Garber, Huijuan Pan, Xinping Ye, Zuofu Xiang, Michael W. Bruford, Scott V. Edwards, Yinchuan Cao, Shuancang Yu, Lianju Gao, Zhisheng Cao, Guangjian Liu, Baoping Ren, Fanglei Shi, Zalan Peterfi, Dayong Li, Baoguo Li, Zhi Jiang, Junsheng Li, Vadim N. Gladyshev, Ruiqiang Li, Ming Li. Population genomics reveals low genetic diversity and adaptation to hypoxia in snub-nosed monkeys. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2016; msw150 DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msw150

Snub-nosed monkeys (genus Rhinopithecus) are a group of endangered colobines endemic to South Asia. Here, we re-sequenced the whole genomes of 38 snub-nosed monkeys representing four species within this genus. By conducting population genomic analyses, we observed an similar load of deleterious variation in snub-nosed monkeys living in both smaller and larger populations and found that genomic diversity was lower than that reported in other primates. Reconstruction of Rhinopithecus evolutionary history suggested that episodes of climatic variation over the past 2 million years, associated with glacial advances and retreats and population isolation, have shaped snub-nosed monkey demography and evolution. We further identified several hypoxia-related genes under selection in R. bieti (black snub-nosed monkey), a species that exploits habitats higher than any other nonhuman primate. These results provide the first detailed and comprehensive genomic insights into genetic diversity, demography, genetic burden and adaptation in this radiation of endangered primates.

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New population of rare Myanmar snub-nosed monkey discovered in China
Scientists have confirmed the presence of a second breeding population of the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey in China, this time on the eastern slopes of Gaoligong Mountains in the Salween River Basin.

16 December 2016 / Shreya Dasgupta

  • Between October 2013 and September 2015, Chinese researchers successfully captured more than 200 camera trap images of the monkey, and even videotaped the monkeys on the eastern slopes of Gaoligong Mountains.
  • This discovery is good news for the species, researchers say, because the populations in Myanmar and Pianma on the western slopes of Gaoligong
  • Mountains are declining due to hunting and habitat degradation.
  • The team estimates that the new population — called the Luoma population — might have more than 70 individuals.

Scientists have confirmed the presence of a new population of the rare Myanmar snub-nosed monkey in China.

The Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) first came to attention when local hunters told a group of researchers about a species that allegedly sneezed during the rainy season in the northern forests of Myanmar. Biologists then described the first population of this rare monkey — locally known as mey nwoah, or ‘monkey with an upturned face’ — from the remote Kachin state of north-east Myanmar in 2010.

A year later, a second population was discovered in Pianma on the western slopes of Gaoligong Mountains in neighboring China. The newly discovered primate was quickly listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

Now, scientists have confirmed the presence of a population of the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey on the eastern slopes of Gaoligong Mountains in the Salween River Basin, close to the border with Myanmar.

This discovery is good news for the species, especially because the populations in Myanmar and Pianma are declining due to hunting and habitat degradation, researchers report in a new study published in the journal Oryx.

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A new breeding population of the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey has been discovered in China. Photo by Dong Shaohua.

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A family of Myanmar snub-nosed monkeys in the new population. Photo by Yinpin Tian.A family of Myanmar snub-nosed monkeys in the new population. Photo by Yinpin Tian.

Between October 2013 and September 2015, Chinese researchers successfully captured more than 54 images of the monkeys using camera traps, 200 photographs, and even videotaped the monkeys. They also found evidence of chewed branches and faeces consistent with those collected from the species in its other confirmed sites.

“Wet weather, steep terrain, dense forest and bamboo have been obstacles for us since we start our work on R. skrykeri in 2012,” co-author Wen Xiao told Mongabay. “I have been working on the black snub-nosed monkey (R. bieti) which occurs at higher altitude and latitude for 16 years, and I will say that the difficulty of working on R. skrykeri is much more than working on R. bieti. So any data we get is valuable simply due to its availability.”

The team estimates that the new population — referred to as the Luoma population — might have more than 70 individuals. The population lives in the core zone of the Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve, the authors write, just a day’s walk away from the closest village. Researchers think that this population could serve as a source population for the formation of new additional populations of the rare monkey.

“The Luoma group of Myanmar snub-nosed monkey occurs in one of the most intact forest patches in China,” said Xiao. “It is also at the center of all the other groups we determined based on interview surveys. So it can be the key group in China, if we think all the groups in China form a population or meta-population.”

The Myanmar snub-nosed monkey occurs in high altitude forests in a small region between the Irrawaddy and the Salween Rivers, and has a limited distribution. The species is threatened by hunting and trapping, and destruction of its habitat due to logging and the construction of dams. Fewer than 400 individuals of this species are thought to survive in the wild.

The Luoma population requires strict and effective conservation management, the researchers say.

“This group was found near the border of Gaoligong National Nature Reserve, which means that the home range of the Luoma group may extend out of the reserve,” Xiao said. “So we need to work with the forest department to set some buffer zone for them. For that we need to clarify its home range.”

Moreover, since the monkey is distributed both in China and Myanmar, a cross boundary conservation framework is essential to ensure the species survives, Xiao added.

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Mother and infant of Myanmar snub-nosed monkey in the newly discovered population in Luoma, China, near the border with Myanmar. Photo by Dong Shaohua.


Yang, Y., Tian, Y.-P., He, C.-X., Huang, Z., Dong, S.-H., Wang, B., Li, G.-S., Xiang, Z.-F., Long, Y.-C. and Xiao, W. (2016) ‘The Critically Endangered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey Rhinopithecus strykeri found in the Salween River Basin, China’, Oryx, pp. 1–3. doi: 1017/S0030605316000934.

The Myanmar snub-nosed monkey Rhinopithecus strykeri was discovered in 2010 on the western slopes of the Gaoligong Mountains in the Irrawaddy River basin in Myanmar and subsequently in the same river basin in China, in 2011. Based on 2 years of surveying the remote and little disturbed forest of the Gaoligong Mountains National Nature Reserve in China, with outline transect sampling and infrared camera monitoring, a breeding group comprising > 70 individuals was found on the eastern slopes of the Gaoligong Mountains in the Salween River Basin. Given the Critically Endangered status of this primate (a total of < 950 individuals are estimated to remain in the wild), efforts to protect the relatively undisturbed habitat of this newly discovered population and to prevent hunting are essential for the long-term survival of this species.

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