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The slow loris is a nocturnal primate found in Southeast Asia and is closely related to a lemur. Credit: Visuals Unlimited/Corbis
Researchers have discovered a new slow loris species in the jungles of Borneo, according to findings published this week in the American Journal of Primatology.
Known for its toxic bite, the slow loris — a nocturnal primate found across Southeast Asia — is closely related to a lemur and is characterized by unique fur coloration on its face and body.
An international team of scientists pinpointed the new species, found in Borneo's central-east highland area, by studying the distinctive colorings of the faces of the animals.
"Differences among these facemasks resulted in recognition of four species of Borneaon and Philippine lorises," the statement said. "Of these, Nycticebus kayan is a new group unrecognized before as distinct."
The team's analysis also recognized two other species, previously considered as possible sub-species, as unique.
"In the first study to quantify facial mask differences, we have recognized three new species of slow iris, two of which were recognized as subspecies at some point in the past, but are now elevated to species status, and one previously unrecognized group," said Rachel Munds of the University of Missouri — Columbia.
"This finding will assist in conservation efforts for these enigmatic primates, although survey work in Borneo suggests the new species are either very difficult to locate or their numbers may be very small."