John Hart and a number of talented colleagues announced today, September 12th, that they have discovered a new species of monkey, called the lesula. This significant finding was made in the Lomami Basin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a remote area where scientific exploration is relatively recent. This monkey is a member of the group of primates commonly called guenons, and was given the scientific name Cercopithecus lomamiensis. The authors note that this is the first new species of monkey to be recognized in Africa in 28 years.
John Hart gave a wonderful interview on NPR about the process of proving the discovery – definitely worth a listen.
I find it incredible that new species are still being discovered. In this case, we aren’t talking about something hidden in a volcanic vent at the bottom of the ocean. The lesula is a relatively large primate, and Hart reports that they are fairly abundant.
The lesula stirs my imagination about wild places, unknown animals, and the thrill of discovery. This is the stuff that makes science cool.