Scientists have discovered a new primate species in the Vegetation of Myanmar, and it seems they are already in dwindling numbers. The discovered Popa Langur (Trachypithecus popa) is a new species of primate with white rings around their eyes and white underparts with greyish black or dark brown body. Additionally, the langur also possesses a crest on its head. These langurs are named after the sacred ‘Popa’ mountain, which is an extinct volcano.
The species is the result of findings from scientists working across three organizations and published other findings in the journal Zoological Research. Researchers from Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and the German Primate Center (GMC) conducted field surveys of langurs and collected samples of DNA of all major Langurs. Combining the data of all surveys, samples, and specimens led to the confirmation of new species.
One of the most significant parts in the study is a 100-year-old specimen from London Natural History Museum. Although these specimens were present for over 100 years, modern identification tools in the field of genetics played a vital role in identification. This tells us how important natural history specimens can be and their crucial role in genetic research, which helps us to explore biodiversity around us. Other external factors like tail length, fur, color, and skull shape also helped them to differentiate from other species, but genetic analysis gave the confirmation.
Unfortunately, there is also another side of finding for this new species of Primates. Once, it is said that these primates were spread across central Myanmar, but only these populations exist in fragments with an estimated total of 200 to 260 individuals. The largest fragment belonging to Mount Popa, where at least 100 individuals exist. Although Mount Popa is a protected national park, these langurs are threatened by human activities like timber cultivation, deforestation, agricultural encroachment, and animal farming activities.
The study urges organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to add the species in their threatened list in order to push the conservation activities. Improving protected areas and strict law enforcement is essential to protect the two largest known populations added to the study.
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