Illustration for article titled The First Ever Picture Of A Monkey Everyone Thought Might Be Extinct

This is Bouvier's red colobus monkey. Until two primatologists released this picture, the scientific community didn't even know whether it still existed. And now, that's pretty much all they know.


When Lieven Devreese and Gaël Elie Gnondo Gobolo were told that people living near Ntokou-Pikounda National Park had seen a certain kind of monkey, the primate researchers were hopeful but not confident. Piliocolobus bouvieri had only rarely been seen since 1887, when it was given its scientific name, and the sightings were usually unverified. It's always been rare and tough to find. The only physical specimens that scientists have were collected a century ago. Some even believed that the monkey was extinct.

Still, they set off into the forest of the Republic of the Congo's newest national park, guided by the people who had heard the calls. They came out with this photograph. It's not a stunning work of art, but it is a stunning work of biology. This is the world's first picture of Bouvier's red colobus monkey.


So now we all know that this is what the monkey looks like. Beyond that, few have any idea about its behavior, diet, or group size. Colobus monkeys have been studied, although their placid nature has been making them harder and harder to study as hunters pick them off. And this colobus's behavior is probably much like its kin — but we can't be sure. For now, we can just content ourselves that we know what it looks like, and that it still exists.

Image: Lieven Devreese, via press release

[Sources: The Wildlife Conservation Society.]

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