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article image'Extinct' monkeys found in remote Borneo rainforest

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By Leigh Goessl     Jan 21, 2012 in Environment
Scientists have discovered a species of monkey that were previously believed to have been extinct.
The Miller's Grizzled Langur, found in a remote rainforest in Borneo, allowed researchers to get a first-time good glimpse at the rare type of monkey.
According to a press release issued by Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, "PhD student Brent Loken was hoping to capture images of the elusive Bornean clouded leopard when he set up a camera trap in the rainforest. Instead, he made the re-discovery of a lifetime."
Loken said, "Concern that the species may have gone extinct was first raised in 2004, and a search for the monkey during another expedition in 2008 supported the assertion that the situation was dire."
Previously experts knew the monkeys had resided in a section of Borneo where the natural habitat had been infringed on by humans, and the land had been converted for use in mining and agriculture. Additionally, fires had ravaged the area, CBC News reported.
Miller s Grizzled Langur
Miller's Grizzled Langur
SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations
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Ironically a separate group studying and collecting data in Borneo had also been scoping out the monkeys independently of the Vancouver group.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh student Eric Fell had accompanied a professor to Borneo to do some independent research.
According to University of Wisconsin Oshkosh's Today publication, Fell had traveled to Borneo to observe and document regional animals using mineral licks.
While observing he saw a langur, and he couldn't identify the precise species in his field guide. “I was sitting in a blind, so they couldn’t see me, but this one was 15 to 20 feet from where I was standing,” Fell said. “None of the other monkeys had come that close.”
Fell shared his images with Stephanie Spehar, the professor he'd traveled with, and members of Loken's team from Vancouver.
"We knew we had found this primate that some people had speculated was potentially extinct," said Spehar, a primatologist at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh who has been studying in Borneo for four years. "It was really exciting," reported Fox News.
Spehar credits Fell stating that she does not study mineral licks so no one on her team would have been in that location to see Miller's Grizzled Langur. After showing Fell's images to the Vancouver team, two groups were amazed they each had found a small group of the same kind of primate. Spehar said the distance between the two discoveries was far enough to indicate two separate populations were residing in this section of Borneo, the observed langurs were not just one isolated group.
Image of the thought to be extinct Miller s Grizzled Langur
Image of the thought to be extinct Miller's Grizzled Langur
SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations
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“Because we found these two groups at the same time, that’s an indication that there may be a substantial population of these animals living there, Sphear said, reported Today.
Researchers said the Wehea Forest is a remote location and the research was made possible with the assistance of local partners. Currently Loken runs a nonprofit, Ethical Expeditions, dedicated to helping local residents fright back against deforestation; the island has already reportedly lost 65 percent of its rainforest.
"It was a challenge to confirm our finding as there are so few pictures of this monkey available for study," says Loken, who is in SFU's resource and environmental management program.
"The only description of Miller's grizzled langur came from museum specimens. Our photographs from Wehea are some of the only pictures that we have of this monkey."
Miller's Grizzled Langur is considered endangered.
This study was published on Jan. 20 in the online version of the American Journal of Primatology (print version will be published in March 2012 issue).
Digital Journal recently reported extinct giant tortoises believed to be alive on Galapagos Island.
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More about extinct monkeys, Borneo, Presbytis, Simon fraser university, University of wisconsin Oshkosh
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