The new species, known as the 'Sela macaque' (Macaca selai), was discovered in the state's western and central regions, according to ZSI Director Dhriti Banerjee.
“Scientists collected a few samples and undertook a detailed phylogenetic analysis and we found this monkey is genetically different from the other species in the region,” she said.
The new species is separated from the Arunachal macaque of Tawang district by Sela Pass, Banerjee said.
For about two million years, the Sela Pass acted as a barrier, preventing movement between the two macaque species, according to ZSI scientist Mukesh Thakur.
The Sela macaque is genetically closer to the Arunachal macaque and both species have many similar physical characteristics such as heavy built and long dorsal body hair, he said.
However, there are also some distinct morphological traits, he said. Thakur explained that the Arunachal macaque has a black face and a dark brown coat, whereas the Sela macaque has a pale face and a brown coat.
According to him, certain troops in both species have become habituated to human presence while others avoid it.
Sela macaque is a major cause of crop destruction in West Kameng area, according to villagers, he said.
The new macaque species analysis was published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
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