[Taxacom] New monkey from Brazil

Fabio Moretzsohn fabio at falcon.tamucc.edu
Wed May 17 14:10:52 CDT 2006

Dear all

I visited the Zootaxa website and found out that a new species of monkey (Cebidae, genus Cebus) from northeastern Brazil was proposed a few days ago (Zootaxa 1200: 1-12, 11 May 2006, see below). I have not seen any mention of this in the mainstream news, but it is a significant discovery. And similarly to a recent new species of moneky from Africa (Jones et al, 2005, Science 308: 1161-1164), the holotype of the new Brazilian monkey, Cebus queirozi Mendes Pontes and Malta, 2006, was measured alive then released back in the wild. A paratype was photographed in the wild, and the description was based on the holotype and photographed paratype.

The authors found only a group of 18 individuals, living in a small area of disturbed secondary-growth forest and swamp, close to a sugar-cane plantation. The area has high endemism and many other species (one reptile, four butterflies, two gastropods, four amphibians and 11 trees) have recently beed described from the region. The new monkey has not been recorded from other areas surveyed, and the authors believe that it is an endangered species, hence no specimen was sacrificed. Unfortunatelly, no radio transmitter or other marking were used to track the monkeys in the wild, nor did blood, hair or scat samples or any invasive measures were taken, according to the paper. 

I remember some discussion about the description of the African monkey at Taxacom (but I could not find it) and at ICZN-L (the thread "The illustrated monkey", apparently started by Geoff Read  10/20/2005). As suggested by Lynn Raw at ICZN-L (10/30/2005), this situation of new species descriptions based on live specimens or photographs may become more common as animal rights advocates and others increase their influence, and collections, especially of vertebrates, become increasingly more restricted. 

Mendes Pontes et al. (2006) cite the example of Jones et al (2005) and Polaszek et al. (2005), which were based on the ICZN Article 73.1.4, "which allows the description of new taxa without the need for dead type specimens" (quote from the Zootaxa paper). Is it really what Art. 73.1.4 intended to mean? Is the door to specimen-less descriptions irreparably open?

And lastly, the new monkey was named Cebus queirozi, although the authors explain the name acknowledges the Queiroz family (landowners where the monkey lives); shouldn't the name then be "queirozorum"? My guess is that queirozi is more euphonic in Portuguese than queirozorum, but no explanation is given in the paper.


Fabio Moretzsohn, Ph.D.
Post Doctoral Research Associate
Harte Research Institute of Gulf of Mexico Studies
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
6300 Ocean Drive, Unit 5869
Corpus Christi, TX 78412-5869
Phone: (361) 825-3230
Fax: (361) 825-2050
fabio at falcon.tamucc.edu

Original description: Mendes Pontes, A.R., Malta A. and Asfora, P.H. 2006. A new species of capuchin monkey, genus Cebus Erxleben (Cebidae, Primates): found at the very brink of extinction in the Pernambuco Endemism Centre. Zootaxa 1200: 1-12.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list