Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

New Species of Borneo's Enigmatic Primate with a Toxic Bite Discovered

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

An international team of scientists studying the elusive nocturnal primate, the slow loris, in the jungles of Borneo have discovered an entirely new species. The team’s analysis of the primate’s distinctive facial fur markings, published in the American Journal of Primatology, reveals the existence of one entirely new species, and an additional two species, previously considered as possible sub-species, are being officially recognized as unique. The recognition of these new species strongly suggests that there is more diversity yet to be discovered in the jungles of Borneo and on the surrounding islands, including the Philippines. However, much of this territory is threatened by human activity and raises urgent questions about conservation efforts of the small and fragile ranges that more slow loris species may exist in. This is an area of particular concern to Anna Nekaris, a world-renowned expert on the slow loris and Professor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University. Co-author of the paper, Professor Nekaris comments “The pet trade is a serious threat for slow lorises in Indonesia, and recognition of these new species by non-experts can be difficult. … raising issues regarding where to release confiscated Bornean slow lorises.” The slow loris (Nycticebus) is a primate genus closely related to the lemur. Found across South East Asia, from Bangladesh and China’s Yunnan province to the island of Borneo, the slow loris is rare amongst primates for having a toxic bite, and is rated as Vulnerable or Endangered on the IUCN Red List. To read more about this discovery, the full citation of the paper is: R. Munds, S. Ford, K.A.I. Nekaris, “Taxonomy of the Bornean Slow Loris, with New Species Nycticbus Kayan (Priamtes Lorisdae)”, American Journal of Primatology, December 2012, DOI: 10.1002/22071 To request a copy contact sciencenewsroom@wiley.com