Nature & Environment
Hybrid 'mystery monkey' has been discovered in Borneo
By T.K. Randall
May 6, 2022 · 2 comments
The monkey appears to be a hybrid of two other species. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 T. R. Shankar Raman
The unorthodox primate is believed to be a cross between two other (distantly related) species.
A new study this week has further demonstrated that the natural world still has a great many surprises in store - even when it comes to a group of animals as well documented and understood as primates.
The mysterious monkey, which was first discovered near the Kinabatangan River in Malaysian Borneo when it was still an infant, has left primatologists scratching their heads.
The prevailing theory is that this unusual specimen is actually a cross between a proboscis monkey and a silvery langur (which are only distantly related) - a pairing that has never been seen before despite the fact that both species do happen to inhabit the same forest.
It is in fact only the second time that intergeneric hybridization in wild primates has ever been recorded at all, making this a particularly unusual case.
While hybridization can often cause infertility, there has been evidence to suggest that the specimen - which is a female - is not only fertile but may have already given birth to an offspring.
The long-term consequences of such hybridization, however, remain a concern for ecologists.
"Seeing this putative hybrid is per se not of concern to the balance of the ecosystem or the two species, however it is an alarming symptom of an ecosystem that already seems out of balance," said study co-author Nadine Ruppert from the University of Science in Malaysia.
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