The primate genus Nycticebus contains a group called slow lorises, which is closely related to lemurs, and can be found across South East Asia. Recently, biologists discovered a new species in the jungles of Borneo.
The scientists published their findings in the American Journal of Primatology. The animals are omnivores, eating insects, small birds, reptiles, eggs, fruits, nectar and other vegetation. Slow lorises have unique fur coloration on their bodies and faces and a toxic bite. They are rated as Vulnerable / Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Historically, many species went unrecognized and were falsely lumped together as one species, states Rachel Munds, of the University of Missouri Columbia and lead author. The number of recognized primate species has doubled in the past 25 years.
Differences among the facemasks resulted in the recognition of four species of Bornean and Philippine lorises. Nycticebus menagensis, N. bancanus, N. borneanus, and N. kayan have been identified.
N. kayan, also known as the Kayan loris, is a species that went unrecognized before. The primate produces a toxic bite when it licks a gland on its arm. The saliva reacts with the secretions to form a toxin that they use to deter predators. N. kayan lives in the central-east highland area of Borneo, and it is named for a major river flowing through the region, the Kayan.
This recognition indicates that there is more diversity in the jungles of Borneo and on the surrounding islands than previously thought. The scientists believe more conservation efforts are needed to protect the area from human activity and for future research.
Reference: “Taxonomy of the Bornean Slow Loris, With New Species Nycticebus kayan (Primates, Lorisidae)” by Rachel A. Munds, K. A. I. Nekaris and Susan M. Ford, 18 December 2012, American Journal of Primatology.