In a zoo at Gombe National Park in Tanzania, Africa, new species of monkeys have been discovered. The new species comes from two distinct sets of monkeys and according to the findings, it appears that they have been mating for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Those 'Promiscuous' Primates
The guenon monkeys lineage was discovered by Dr. Kate Detwiler, an anthropology professor at the Florida Atlantic University. Detwiler stated that she discovered this interesting information by studying the feces of the primates.
Detwiler continued that in the feces of the monkeys, she found two strands of DNA from two genetically different sets. The hybrid species comes from the red-tail and blue monkeys who were thought to have been picky about their mating process.
The professor collected the DNA from about 144 monkeys and out of those 144 monkeys, about 15 percent were the offspring of the red-tails and blue monkeys. After doing further research, Detwiler tested the mitochondrial DNA, which is only passed through the mothers, and discovered that it traced back to red-tailed females.
"There's a lot of promiscuity taking place. Red-tails are mating with blues, blues are mating with red-tails, and hybrids are mating with everyone," Detwiler stated in the International Journal of Primatology.
Detwiler mentioned in her findings that the hybrid off-springs where hiding in plain sight and was never noticed by anyone in the zoo. She continued that there are negative consequences to this process of mating between the different species.
"The Gombe hybrid population is extremely valuable because it can be used as a model system to better understand what hybridization looks like and how genetic material moves between species," she continued.
Is This Good Or Bad?
While the study has shown a fascination with the new species, there are pros and cons to factor when dealing with hybridization. It can be seen as a good thing for animals that need to "adapt" to a new terrain.
An example of this would be the grolar bears that are hybrids of grizzly bears and polar bears. The grolar bears have some traits that are better suited for an ice-free environment like their grisly bear parent but also bear a light colored coat which they inhabited from their polar bear parent. Another hybrid that can adapt to either environment is the coywolves, which are descendant of coyotes and wolves.
In the case of these new species of monkeys, the laws of mating may not matter much to them.