By Marlowe Hood
For nearly a century the carcass of a small, reddish-brown monkey from South America gathered dust in a windowless backroom of the American Natural History Museum in New York City.
Like a morgue corpse in a drawer with the wrong toe tag, it was a victim of mistaken identity. No one realised during all those years that it was, in fact, a specimen of an unknown species.
That taxonomical injustice will be rectified at the end of this month when the newly-minted Latin name of the overlooked monkey — rediscovered in 2013 during a jungle expedition through central Peru mounted by a Dutch primatologist — is officially published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
To wit, Primate Conservation, a reference in the field.
Then and only then, according to the rules of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, will Callicebus urubambensis, named for the river along which it lives, finally exist in the annals of biology.
The discovery of new primates, especially monkeys, is a pretty big deal.
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