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Newly discovered loris may be slow, but its bite is toxic

A new slow loris species was discovered in Borneo, named Nycticebus kayan. The little primate weighs less than a pound.

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The newly discovered slow loris primate (Nycticebus kayan) has a furry "face mask" distinct from other slow loris species.

Ch'ien C Lee

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A new small primate with a toxic bite and distinctive facial fur markings has been discovered in the jungles of Borneo.

The new slow loris species is found in the highlands of the island of Borneo and has been named Nycticebus kayan, after a major river, the Kayan, flowing through the region. The trio of scientists also found that two species previously considered sub-species in the Nycticebus genus are officially unique species.

"Historically, many species went unrecognized as they were falsely lumped together as one species," researcher Rachel Munds, of the University of Missouri Columbia, said in a statement.

Closely related to lemurs, the slow loris is found across Southeast Asia, from Bangladesh and China's Yunnan province to Borneo. To distinguish between species, the researchers focused on the seeming face masks of Borneo's slow lorises; fur patches cover their eyes, while their heads are covered with differently shaped caps. The examined photographs and museum samples for eight face mask features, finding there were four species of Bornean lorises. [See Photos of the Slow Loris Primates]

The new species to science, N. kayan, showed a dark, highly contrasting face mask, with dark patches around its eyes. From the specimen examined, the species is about 10.8 inches (273 millimeters) long and weighs about 14.5 ounces (411 grams). The other species include: N. menagensis, N. bancanus and N. borneanus. (N. menagensis had already been recognized as a species.)

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