Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new species of macaque in Arunachal Pradesh.
The new species, named “Sela Macaque” (Macaca selai), has been found in the western and central parts of the state, ZSI director Dhriti Banerjee said.
“Scientists collected a few samples and undertook a detailed phylogenetic analysis and we found that this monkey is genetically different from other species in the area,” she said.
The new species is separated from the Arunachal macaque of Tawang district by Sela Pass, Banerjee said.
ZSI scientist Mukesh Thakur said the Sela pass acted as a barrier and prevented migration between the two macaque species for about two million years.
The Sela macaque is genetically closer to the Arunachal macaque and the two species have many similar physical characteristics such as a strong build and long dorsal hair, he said.
However, there are also distinct morphological characteristics, he said.
The Arunachal macaque has a dark face and dark brown colored coat, while the Sela macaque has a pale face and brown colored coat, Thakur said.
Some troops of both species are habituated to human presence while others avoid human proximity, he said.
Villagers claimed that the Sela macaque is a major cause of crop damage in West Kameng district, he said.
The study on the new species of macaque was published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
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