An international team of scientists has discovered a new species of primate in the east-central highlands of Borneo. The species, Nycticebus kayan, was named after the Kayan River which flows through the primate's range. Nycticebus kayan belongs to a group of primates known as the slow loris.
The team, led by Dr. Rachael Munds from the University of Missouri, focused their attention on the slow loris of Borneo, species whose cryptic coloration and nocturnal habits make them particularly challenging to distinguish. The team studied the slow loris' facial markings and eye patches to help them determine how many distinct species inhabit the region.
Slow loris are closely related to lemurs and are notable for having a toxic bite. Most members of the group are considered to be vulnerable or endangered due to habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade.
Although the classification of slow loris has changed frequently in recent years, the current research indicates that there are four species that inhabit Borneo. These include the newly discovered Nycticebus kayan as well as Nycticebus menagensis, Nycticebus bancanus, and Nycticebus borneanus. Slow loris also inhabit other areas of South East Asia including Bangladesh and the Yunnan province of China.
Photo © Ch'ien Lee / wildborneo.com.my.