Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New gibbon species discovered in Indochina

21.09.2010
Primate researchers have identified a new species of gibbon living in the tropical rain forests between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

Scientists from the German Primate Center (DPZ) in Göttingen have identified a new species: the northern buffed-cheeked gibbon, Nomascus annamensis.


Northern buffed-cheeked gibbon males have a black pelt that shimmers silver in sunlight. The chest is brownish in colour, the cheeks are deep orange-golden. The crest is very prominent. Photo: Tilo Nadler, Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Vietnam


Females are orange-beige in color. They lack the characteristic crest. Photo: Tilo Nadler, Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Vietnam

Researchers were able to identify it through its characteristic vocalizations. An analysis of the frequency and tempo of their calls, along with genetic research, show that this is, in fact, a new species. Crested gibbons, a monogamous species that live in the tree tops of tropical jungles, are among the most endangered primate species in the world. Knowledge of their biology and distribution is of great importance for their conservation (Vietnamese Journal of Primatology 1(4), 2010).

Unusual songs resonate early in the morning through the tropical jungle. Van Ngoc Thinh, a doctoral student at Göttingen’s primate center, is out and in an inhospitable and mountainous area lying between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in order to record the calls of crested gibbons. These primates, who live high up in the canopy, are as yet largely unexplored, though scientists suspect their song serves to defend territory or might even be a precursor of the music humans make. But Van Ngoc Thinh is interested far less in pair-bonding than in the evolution and biology of crested gibbons. He can differentiate between different species and even identify individuals by the frequency and tempo of their calls.

Gibbons, like orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos belong to the apes, our closest relatives. Due to their smaller size, however, gibbons are also called lesser apes. A distinction is made between four genera of gibbons, of which the crested gibbons, with their characteristic “punk hairdo,” are the most eye-catching. Male and female animals look quite different. While the females show an orange-yellow pelt, adult males are black and have the characteristic crest. In addition, some species have light-colored cheeks. What they all have in common are long arms and the ability to brachiate, that is, to swing with great accuracy and over considerable distances from branch to branch.

Crested gibbons are only found in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and southern China. Until now, it has been assumed that there are six different species, their territories separated by rivers. The German-American-Vietnamese research team led by Christian Roos has now been able to identify a seventh species.

Determining gibbon species is particularly difficult, as they live high up in the canopy. Small differences in their coloration are nearly impossible to make out from below, and tranquilizing them for identification purposes is out of the question, as these endangered animals would not survive a fall from such a great height. “Instead, we collected the droppings from the animals in order to read the genetic information available in their intestinal cells,” says Christian Roos, describing the arduous fieldwork in the jungle. These data were augmented by a genetic analysis of the animals displayed in museums. The sound recordings provided an additional, valuable source of information. From all this data, the team was able to demonstrate that the southern white-cheeked gibbon Nomascus siki was not one species but two: the newly identified northern buffed-cheeked gibbon and the southern white-cheeked gibbon. The two species are separated from each other by the Banghiang and Thach Han Rivers.

“The discovery of a new species of ape is a minor sensation”, Christian Roos says. All crested gibbon species are endangered or critically endangered. Scientists assume only about 20 Hainan gibbons still survive, making them the rarest and most critically endangered primate in the world. Other species and subspecies are similarly endangered, and some have populations of only around a hundred animals. One reason for their sharp decline is illegal hunting. Gibbons are kept as cute pets, or they are eaten, or they are processed into traditional medicines. A further major threat is the increasing loss of their habitat by forest clearing to make way for farming, or to establish rubber, coffee and cashew plantations, or to mine gold or make charcoal, or simply for the timber. “Knowledge of their biology and exact distributions is essential for effectively protecting the animals,” Christian Roos says. “Only if we know where which species is found and how many individuals there are can we start with serious conservation actions.”

The gibbon is the fourteenth species of primate discovered and described by the Biodiversity of Primates Network, a collaborative effort by scientists at the German Primate Center. A list of species can be found at http://dpz.eu/species; it includes the silvery lutung, found in Asia, and various lemurs that live in Madagascar.

Original publication:
Van Ngoc Thinh, Alan R. Mootnick, Vu Ngoc Thanh, Tilo Nadler, Christian Roos: A new species of crested gibbon, from the central Annamite mountain range. Vietnamese Journal of Primatology 1(4), 2010, 1-12.
Further information is available from:
Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH http://www.dpz.eu
Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Vietnam: http://www.primatecenter.org
Contact:
Dr. Christian Roos
Phone: +49 551 3851-300
Email: croos@dpz.eu
Prof. Dr. Lutz Walter
Phone: +49 551 3851-161
Email: lwalter@gwdg.de
Dr. Susanne Diederich (Press and public relations)
Phone: +49 551 3851-359
Email: presse@dpz.eu
The German Primate Center (DPZ) in Göttingen, Germany, engages in basic research on and with primates in the areas of organismic biology, infectious diseases, and neurosciences. In addition, it operates four field stations abroad and is a Competence and Reference Center for primate research. The DPZ is one of the 86 Leibnitz Association research and service institutions in Germany (http://www.wgl.de/).

Dr. Susanne Diederich | idw
Further information:
http://dpz.eu/species
http://www.primatecenter.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>