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Scientists identify new primate species, which may already face extinction

Scientists identify new primate species, which may already face extinction

ABOVE: Hear the distinctive call that helped researchers discover this new primate species.

Researchers have discovered a new primate species and say it’s a “giant among dwarfs.”

The Angola dwarf galago was observed and studied by an international team of zoologists, led by Magdalena Svensson from Oxford Brookes University in the U.K.

Galagos are small, nocturnal mammals found only in Africa. So far, researchers have identified 19 different galago species.

This new galago, also known as a bushbaby, is approximately three times larger than other dwarf galagos at 6.2 inches long (about 16 centimetres).

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The researchers first noticed the bushbaby from its distinct call, which can be heard in the video above.

“When we first encountered the new species in Kumbira Forest in northwestern Angola, we heard a distinctive ‘crescendo’ call similar to that of a tiny galago, but upon seeing one, we were struck by its remarkably large size,” said Svensson.

“Until now, call types have been the most reliable way to distinguish galago species and to find one that did not match what we expected was very exciting.”

On top of being larger than other galagos, the researchers also observed that the Angola dwarf species had a more elongated skull and different colouring and markings.

But the researchers noted that the area in which they discovered the primate is rich with biodiversity but is under threat of deforestation.

“These forests are under severe threat from over-exploitation, and there is an urgent need to establish conservation measures and designate protected areas,” they wrote.

Zoologist Judith Masters, who co-authored the study, told National Geographic: “There’s a huge amount of destruction going on in West Africa. It’s heartbreaking.”

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Masters added that the deforestation has likely endangered the newly-discovered species. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (which does not yet list the Angola dwarf galago), two other species of galagos are listed as either critically endangered or near-threatened.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

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