New Monkey Discovered in Burma Sneezes When it Rains
Image: Reconstructed photo of the monkey by Dr. Thomas Geissmann
Conservationists have found a new species of monkey in northern Burma that has such a uniquely shaped nose, its upturned nostrils fill with water when it rains, causing it to sneeze. On rainy days, the monkeys are known to sit with their heads tucked between their knees.
Known in the local dialect as mey nwoah, or "monkey with an upturned face," the snub-nosed monkey is thought to be critically endangered, with an estimated population of 300 or less, according to Fauna and Flora International.
Local populations told the Primate Conservation Programme the monkeys were easy to find on rainy days, because people can hear the sneezing.
The monkey, which is mostly black with white fur and protruding lips, has been named Rhinopithecus strykeri by conservationists, according to the BBC.
All snub-nosed monkeys are endangered, and while other species are known to exist in China and Vietnam, this is the first to be found (by scientists) in Burma. Since no photos are available yet of the monkey alive, the photo above is a Photoshop reconstruction by Dr. Thomas Geissmann "based on a Yunnan snub-nosed monkey and the carcass of the newly discovered species."
AFP reports that the monkey is geographically isolated from other species because its habitat, an area in Kachin State, is separated by the Mekong and Salween rivers. Like most primates and other endangered species, its habitat is threatened by deforestation due to logging, both local and by Chinese companies operating illegally. Local hunting is also a problem, and better enforcement is needed to combat the illegal international wildlife trade.