ZSI Scientists Discover New Macaque Species from West & Central Arunachal Pradesh - Songoti

ZSI Scientists Discover New Macaque Species from West & Central Arunachal Pradesh

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Songoti, National: The scientists of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a very new macaque species which is distributed in western and central Arunachal Pradesh, stated Dr Dhriti Banerjee today. The scientists collected a few samples and undertook a detailed phylogenetic analysis and we found this monkey is genetically different from the other species of monkey reported from this region. According to Dr Banerjee the scientists named it as ‘Sela Macaque’ (Macaca selai) as this species is geographically separated from Arunachal macaque of the Tawang district by a mountain pass, called Sela pass.

 As Dr Mukesh Thakur, Scientist-C, ZSI points out, Sela pass acted as a barrier by restricting the migrations of individuals between these two species for approximately two million years. The Sela macaque is genetically closer to the Arunachal macaque and there are many physical characteristics similar between these two species like a heavy-build shape and long dorsal body hair.

 However, some distinct morphological characters to differentiate them were identified by the scientists. Briefly, the Arunachal macaque has a dark face and dark brown coat colour, while the Sela macaque has a pale face and brown coat colour. We also observed distinct behaviours among troops that are common in both species –some troops are habituated to human presence while others avoid human proximity. According to the villagers, the Sela macaque is a major cause of crop loss in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. This study has been published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

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