Sunday, 10 April 2016

Zoologists shed new light on origins of titi monkey

Date:April 6, 2016
Source:University of Salford

Scientists in Salford have shed new light on the evolution of one of the world's most diverse primate groups -- the titi monkey.

Dr Jean Boubli and PhD student Hazel Byrne, working with zoologists from Brazil and the US, used cutting-edge molecular and computer modelling techniques to investigate the genus Callicebus, first described by Thomas in 1903.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology, the research identifies much greater diversity in the titi which they propose to redefine as three distinct genera -- Callicebus (Titi), Chaeracebus and Plecturocebus.

They have also reclassified the species dubius as caligatus, reducing the number of recognised species from 34 to 33.

"By dividing the titi monkeys into three new genera we are better describing biodiversity by acknowledging the evolutionary uniqueness of these old lineages," explains Dr Boubli, reader in animal ecology at the University of Salford, who described the findings as the "culmination of his 20 year quest for the origins of titi monkey diversity."

Decades of samples
Jean, who spent three years with the Yanomami peoples in the northern Amazon, and Hazel who also spent months in the jungle, built the largest array of titi monkey DNA sequences ever assembled, affording a fresh perspective on the key evolutionary events and when they occurred over time.

The team ran hundreds of genetic codes through computer programmes which simulated their evolution over a millions of generations.

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