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New gibbon species discovered in SW China

A new gibbon species has been discovered in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

The new species, with white eyebrows, is found mainly at Gaoligong Mountain in Yunnan, and is morphologically and genetically distinct from other species, according to a research paper published on the website of the American Journal of Primatology.

Their beards are completely black or brown instead of white, and white hair is absent in the suborbital area, said Fan Pengfei, one of the authors and professor in life sciences at Sun Yat-sen University in south China's Guangdong Province.

Scientists began their research on the white-browed gibbons in Yunnan in 2007 with intensive surveys and comparison. A joint study by 15 scientists from five countries confirmed the discovery of the new species.

The Gaoligong Mountain white-browed gibbons inhabit at altitudes of 500 to 2,000 meters. The population is no more than 200, said Jiang Xuelong, a researcher with Kunming Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Scientists suggest the new species should be categorized as endangered and called for improved conservation.

Gibbons and siamangs are small apes inhabiting southern, eastern and southeastern Asia. The new species increases the number of recognized living species of the animals to 20.

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