A very curious primate species has been discovered for the first time by scientists in the jungles of Myanmar. The Popa langur (Trachypithecus popa), as it’s being called, is a type of monkey with an extremely unique look. It has grayish-purple fur, black circular eyes with large rings around them, and a curious tuft of hair that sits atop its head.
As for its name, the researchers were inspired by the sacred extinct volcano nearby called Mount Popa. Any time you lay eyes on a newly discovered species is thrilling, but the discovery of this new primate species is simultaneously bittersweet as the researchers have already classified them as “critically endangered.” The London Natural History Museum said in a news release that there are only an estimated 200 to 260 left.
“The hope is that by giving this species the scientific status and notoriety it merits, there will be even more concerted efforts in protecting this area and the few other remaining populations,” said Roberto Portela Miguez, a senior curator at the Natural History Museum.
Although these creatures have been in catalogs for over a hundred years, scientists haven’t had the tools or expertise to identify whether or not the Popa langur is an entirely new species of monkey. But by gathering samples and DNA of all other Trachypithecus species (cousins of the Popa langur), and combining this data with other data from specimens in other museums, the scientists were able to confirm the existence of the new species.
The researchers believe the Popa langurs were likely once widespread across central Myanmar, but that only a few groups have survived. Hopefully, the new classification of the Popa langur will ramp up conservation efforts to help save this incredible creature.