KOLKATA, 28 May: Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new macaque species in Arunachal Pradesh.
The new species, named ‘Sela macaque’ (Macaca selai), was 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 this monkey is genetically different from the other species in the region,” 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 around two million years.
The Sela macaque is genetically closer to the Arunachal macaque and both species have many similar physical characteristics such as heavy built and long dorsal body hair, he said.
However, there are also some distinct morphological characteristics, he said. The Arunachal macaque has a dark face and dark brown colour coat, while the Sela macaque has a pale face and brown colour coat, Thakur said.
Some troops in both species are habituated to human presence while others avoid human proximity, he said.
Villagers have claimed that Sela macaque is a major cause of crop damage in West Kameng district, he said.
The study on the new macaque species has been published in the Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution journal. (PTI)