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Picture of the Day

Monkeys see, monkeys do cross species boundary

A research team is the first to document that two genetically distinct species of guenon monkeys inhabiting Gombe National Park in Tanzania have been successfully mating and producing hybrid offspring for hundreds maybe even thousands of years. Prior studies and conventional wisdom have suggested that the physical characteristics of guenon monkeys with a variety of dazzling colors and very distinct facial features such as bushy beards and huge nose spots are a function of keeping them from interbreeding. The idea is that their mate choices and the signals they use to select a mate are species-specific and that they share common traits linked to their species. So, if their faces don't match, they shouldn't be mating, right? Wrong, according to evidence from this novel study. The researchers examined the extent and pattern of genetic transfer or gene flow from red-tailed monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius) to blue monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis) due to hybridization. These two species are the only forest guenons that colonized the narrow riverine forests along Lake Tanganyika that characterize Gombe National Park. They coexist in the same forests as Jane Goodall's chimpanzees and baboons. Using mitochondrial DNA, extracted noninvasively from the feces of 144 red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys and hybrids, the researchers are the first to show the movement of genetic material from one guenon species to another in an active hybrid zone.

Visit Website | Image credit: Maneno Mpongo/Gombe Hybrid Monkey Project