Marmosets are tiny New World monkeys from South America, mainly native to Amazonia and the Atlantic coastal forests. They are found in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru.
Marmosets are roughly 20 cm (8 in) long and are considered the most miniature anthropoid monkeys, weighing between 100–350 g. Compared to other monkeys, they display some primitive features. For example, they have tactile hairs on their wrists, claws rather than nails, and they lack wisdom teeth. There are 22 species divided into four genera: Cebuella, Callibella, Callithrix, and Mico. All genera are part of the biological family Callitrichidae.
A team of researchers has recently discovered a new Mico marmoset species in the Brazilian Amazon named the Schneider’s marmoset (Mico schneideri). M. schneideri is named after Professor Horacio Schneider, a pioneer and significant contributor to monkey diversity and evolution research. M. schneideri was described from marmosets known to researchers since the mid-90s but misidentified as M. emiliae.
The discovery, detailed in a paper published last month in Scientific Reports, was made by a team led by Dr. Rodrigo Costa Araújo, an associate researcher at Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Dr. Araújo was partly funded by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP), a partnership between the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), BirdLife International, and Fauna & Flora International. CLP, launched in 1985, supports the vital work of the next generation of conservation professionals who are undertaking projects that address global conservation issues.
Marmosets of the genus Mico are among the more diverse groups of monkeys. They are found only in the threatened rainforests of the Amazonian region in Brazil, named “Arc of Deforestation,” a region that accounts for 50% of the global land-use change in the past three decades. Unfortunately, there’s no conservation response to address the habitat losses and population decreases these marmosets are subjected to, mainly because they are poorly studied.
Every year, scientists discover new species of life on earth. Last year, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences described the discovery of 213 new species. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the total number of Amazon marmoset species remains unknown. Two years ago, Dr. Araújo and his team discovered the Munduruku marmoset (Mico munduruku) from another area in the arc of deforestation.
According to the study, up to sixteen Mico species were located in the arc of deforestation. However, more research is required to evaluate the conservation status of M. schneideri and investigate its geographical distribution. In addition, continuing to uncover precisely how many Amazon marmosets reside in these forests will pave the way towards conserving these precious animals.
In addition to CLP support, the research was made possible due to a scholarship provided by CNPq and funds by FAPEMAT, CAPES, FAPESP, Primate Action Fund Re:Wild, National Science Foundation, Idea Wild, and NERC.