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A Monkey with Human Eyes and Other Links from the Brink

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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A winning snail, an unusual monkey and abused manatees are among the endangered species in the news this week.

Magazine Mountain shagreen snailBest News of the Week: The Magazine Mountain shagreen snail (Inflectarius magazinensis) has become the first invertebrate protected by the Endangered Species Act to fully recover. The snail has now been removed from the endangered species list, hopefully never to return.

Photo: Trey Reid, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

Worst News of the Week: A massive new study reveals that 60 percent of UK wildlife has seen population declines over the past 50 years. The study also found that 10 percent of all UK species risk extinction.

Turtle, Turtle: World Turtle Day was celebrated on May 23, an occasion which led Treehugger and Time to each run lists of the world’s most endangered turtle species.

Speaking of Lists: The annual list of the 10 Most Amazing and Awesome Newly Discovered Species (not its official name) was also announced on May 23. This year’s list—which covers species discovered (or at least scientifically described) in 2012—includes a tiny violet, a carnivorous sponge, a monkey with human-like eyes, and the world’s smallest vertebrate. Several of these species could be considered endangered or at least vulnerable.

lesulaThe monkey is actually a pretty interesting story. The lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) was discovered by scientists in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007 and formally described in 2012. It has a relatively small range which is contained on either side by massive rivers the monkey can’t navigate across. Although new to science, locals have long known about and hunted the monkeys. Like many species in the region, the bushmeat trade is probably its biggest current threat. That might explain those sad eyes.

Photo: Noel Rowe via PLoS One

Scientists are Howling Mad: Fifteen of the country’s top wolf researchers and conservation biologists have sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel in hopes that she can put a stop to ongoing plans to remove all Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states. Luckily, the wolves have already earned a temporary reprieve. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it had hit an “unexpected delay” that would indefinitely hold up its plan to delist the predators.

Foxy: The Associated Press offers an update on the island fox, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. Things are looking good for these rare canids.

Oh for Crying Out Loud: People, please, stop riding and jumping on manatees! I can assure you, they don’t like it and you’ll probably end up in jail.

What Can the Average Person Do to Help Endangered Species? A Tiger Journal interviews Jean-Christophe Vié, Director of IUCN’s Global Species Program and Director of SOS – Save Our Species. I like his answers.

Well, that’s it for this time around. For more endangered species news stories throughout the week, read the regular Extinction Countdown articles here at Scientific American, “like” Extinction Countdown on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

John R. Platt About the Author: Twice a week, John Platt shines a light on endangered species from all over the globe, exploring not just why they are dying out but also what's being done to rescue them from oblivion. Follow on Twitter @johnrplatt.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. David Cummings 10:10 am 05/25/2013

    “The first contact scientists had with the monkey was when they encountered a juvenile female, kept in a cage by a primary school director in the town of Opala.”
    – from the BBC story

    That must have been an amazing moment, walking into a room and seeing this monkey in a cage, a monkey no one even knew existed.

    Link to this
  2. 2. John R. Platt in reply to John R. Platt 10:43 am 05/25/2013

    The “what the heck is that?” moment is my favorite part of science.

    Link to this

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