A monkey with a moustache found in Ethiopia and Sudan has been recognized as a distinct species after scientists studied it afresh.
“New data on the distribution and physical appearance of patas monkeys (Erythrocebus) in Ethiopia, together with a review of the old taxonomic literature, allows to us disentangle some questions concerning the taxonomy of Erythrocebus in northeast Africa,” says Spartaco Gippoliti, from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) SSC Primate Specialist Group, who reassessed the species status of patas monkeys in the Blue Nile region of Ethiopia and Sudan and come to the conclusion that there are two species.
“Specifically, I resurrect Erythrocebus poliophaeus as a valid species that is found along the Blue Nile Valley at the extreme northeastern portion of the range of the genus,” Gippoliti writes in a research article published in the in the journal Primate Conservation.
The Erythrocebus poliophaeus monkey was first described as a separate species in 1862. It was later incorrectly lumped together with other patas monkeys to form a single species.
“The still little-known, but certainly limited, extent of the range of the species is a cause for conservation concern, but it may be that Erythrocebus poliophaeus could serve as a flagship species for conservation in the biologically rich Western Ethiopian Escarpment region and adjoining Sudan,” Gippoliti writes.
The proposed common English names for the new species are Heuglin’s patas monkey (Heuglin was the famous German explorer who discovered it) or the Blue Nile patas monkey.