New species of gibbon discovered in China

A completed genetic and physical comparison with other gibbons confirmed it to be a new species.

Jan 12, 2017 12:03 IST
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GibbonA group of scientists recently discovered a new species of gibbon living in south-west China’s rainforests. The animal has been studied for some time. However, a completed genetic and physical comparison with other gibbons confirmed it to be a new species.

The study was published on 10 January 2017 in the American Journal of Primatology.

Key facts related to the new species

The new species is named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon. It is named so because the Chinese characters (Hoolock tianxing) of its scientific name mean Heaven's movement, and also the discoverers of the species are Star Wars fans.

It is estimated that around 200 Skywalker gibbons live in China and also potentially in neighbouring Myanmar.

The scientists go on to state that the species should already be classified as endangered. Fragmentation and habitat loss is also putting the gibbons at risk of extinction.

The researchers stated that the all hoolock gibbons have white eyebrows and some have white beards; however, the Chinese primates' markings differed in appearance.

Their songs also had an unusual ring.

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About gibbons

Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae.

The family is split into four genera and 17 species.

Gibbons are found in tropical and subtropical rainforests from eastern Bangladesh and northeast India to southern China and Indonesia.

In certain anatomical details, the gibbons superficially more closely resemble monkeys than great apes do. However, gibbons are tailless like all apes.

Gibbons' fur coloration varies from dark to light brown shades depending on species and sex. However, a completely white gibbon is extremely rare.

They are social animals. However, they are strongly territorial. They defend their boundaries with hearty visual and vocal displays.

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