Cats are no longer the only animals with the ability to win us over with their adorable purrs. A new species of monkey, one of 441 new species recently discovered in the Amazon, reportedly sounds just a like a cat.
According to Phys.org, the Caquetá titi monkey is one of about 20 species of titi monkey native to the Amazon basin in South America. It has a chestnut-red beard and a small black face. What’s most notable about this new species of monkey is the offspring’s tendency to purr when comforted.
Thomas Defler, an American primatologist who lives and works in Colombia and who helped discover the new species of purring monkey, told The Guardian that, "When they feel very content they purr towards each other." He said that the monkeys he and his team worked with even purred for their human handlers.
The dense Amazon rainforest is at the center of new-species discoveries. Between 2010 and 2013, scientists conducted hundreds of expeditions through the underexplored jungles of the Amazon, which covers roughly 2.1 million square miles. They documented a total of 441 new species during that time – everything from flame-patterned lizards to thumbnail-sized frogs to vegetarian piranhas.
Among the discoveries were 258 new species of plants; 84 fish; 58 amphibians; 22 reptiles; and 18 birds. Then there's the innumerable creepy, crawling new bug species they encountered. The entire list of new species discovered in the Amazon can be seen at the World Wildlife Fund website.
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"The more scientists look, the more they find," said Damian Fleming, head of programs for Brazil and the Amazon at WWF in the UK, which compiled the list of new species. "With an average of two new species identified every week for the past four years, it's clear that the extraordinary Amazon remains one of the most important centers of global biodiversity."
"These species form a unique natural heritage that we need to conserve,” said Claudio Maretti, leader of the Living Amazon Initiative at the WWF, according to Nature World News. “This means protecting their home – the amazing Amazon rainforest – which is under threat from deforestation and dam development.”
Because many of these new species, including the Caquetá titi monkey, are found only in the Amazon, their populations face even greater threats from deforestation and other human activities. National Geographic notes that the purring monkey is considered critically endangered because of widespread habitat loss and fragmentation.
"Compiling and updating data on new species discovered in the vast extension of the Amazon over the last four years has shown us just how important the region is for humanity and how fundamentally important it is to research it, understand it and conserve it,” said Maretti, speaking to the National Geographic. “The destruction of these ecosystems is threatening biodiversity and the services it provides to societies and economies. We cannot allow this natural heritage to be lost forever.”