Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India and the University of Calcutta have discovered an enigmatic new species of macaque in the forests of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
These monkeys are native in Asia and Africa and have the widest distribution of any living non-human primate.
There are more than 20 macaca species ranging from Morocco and Gibraltar in the west to Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Bali and Sulawesi in the east.
Macaques are characterized by a moderately long snout, high-crowned molar teeth with very low cusps, and long third molars.
They are frugivores, but many consume considerable amounts of seeds, leaves, flowers, and other plant matter, as well as various animal prey.
All macaques live in relatively large multi-male social groups, with troops of some species containing 50 or more individuals.
The newly identified species, scientifically named Macaca Selaiwas discovered during a field study in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India.
This primate has a pale face and brown coat color, and probably evolved from the arunachal macaque (macaca munzala)an endangered and recently discovered species from the same region.
“Macaca Selai interestingly exhibits high intra-specific genetic variation and also harbors at least two conservation units,” said Dr Mukesh Thakur of the Zoological Survey of India and colleagues.
“Our results suggest that the Arunachal macaque evolved into two phylogenetic species around 1.96 million years ago as a result of allopatric speciation by means of the Sela mountain pass in Arunachal Pradesh, India.” they added.
“The study also identifies gaps to undertake surveys to document relict and unknown transboundary populations of macaques through multinational and multilateral transboundary collaboration.”
The discovery of Macaca Selai is described in a paper published this month in the Molecular phylogenetics and evolution.
Avijit Ghosh et al. The Sela macaque (Macaca Selailisten)) is a distinct phylogenetic species that evolved from the Arunachal macaque after allopatric speciation. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, posted on May 20, 2022; doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2022.107513