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At last, scientists provide photographic evidence of sneezing monkeys

The discovery of sneezing monkeys, a rare, snub-nosed monkey species first spotted just two years ago, highlights the need to improve wildlife management in China.

A female snub-nosed monkey, whose photo was snapped by a local forest ranger Liu Pu in a patch of evergreen broadleaf forest near Pianma in China's Yunnan province

Liu Pu

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A group of monkeys whose nostrils are so upturned they are said to sneeze audibly when it rains has been discovered in China, say researchers, who have now snapped the first photographic evidence of the snub-nosed monkeys there.

The monkey species, Rhinopithecus strykeri, was first reported to exist in October 2010. With no photographic evidence of a live specimen that year, the researchers made a Photoshop reconstruction of it based on a Yunnan snub-nosed monkey and a carcass of the newly discovered species.

At the time, scientists thought the species was limited to the Kachin state of northeastern Myanmar.

The new discovery of the monkey, called "mey nwoah" in local dialects (or "monkey with an upturned face"), suggests its range extends into China. [See Photos of Snub-Nosed Monkeys]

"Our finding of a population of black snub-nosed monkeys was widely celebrated in China," the researchers write in the American Journal of Primatology.

Monkey sneezes

The snub-nosed monkeys are about 21 inches (55 centimeters) long from nose to rump, with tails extending some 30 inches (78 cm). Their fur is black with white ear tufts and white moustaches sitting on their bare-pink faces.

According to local hunters, the monkeys, Rhinopithecus Strykeri, sit with their heads tucked between their knees on drizzly days to keep from inhaling water. When the water gets caught in their noses, they sneeze, locals say.

Researchers were alerted to this hidden group of monkeys after Liu Pu, a forest guard for Gaoligongshan National Nature Reser, snapped photos of them in a forest near Pianma, in Yunann's Lushui County. To check it out, Yongcheng Long from the Nature Conservancy China Program led a team there.  


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