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New Species Of Slow Loris Recognized, Is As Cute, Endangered As All Other Slow Lorises

Researchers have recognized several new species of Borneo’s lemur-like primate, the mind-shatteringly adorable slow loris. Published this week in the American Journal of Primatology, the team’s work officially splits the slow loris community into four distinct species, promoting two former subspecies to full species status in their own right, and recognizing one entirely new species, the kayan loris, pictured above.

Unfortunately, the work doesn’t necessarily leave us with a lot more loris to love, as it largely reclassifies existing populations as different species rather than revealing new ones. That’s a particular bummer in the case of the slow loris — political concerns make the pudgy primates are difficult to study in their native jungles of Borneo, so little is understood about them, other than that they are very cute and likely very endangered. It does give us the option to to pick our favorite slow loris variety and debate their various merits among ourselves, though, which we appreciate to no end.

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The work also helps researchers get a better grasp on the poorly understood matter of diversity in loris populations, many of which remain largely inaccessible to researchers. The natural shyness and nocturnal lifestyle of lorises also makes them more difficult ro researchers to understand the strange animals better — which is a shame, considering how interesting the loris is as the only known primate to possess a toxic bite.

Researchers determined the new species guidelines by analyzing the distinct facial masks of different kinds of lorises. The University of Missouri’s Rachel Munds, one of the authors on the paper, said:

In the first study to quantify facial mask differences we have recognized three new species of slow loris, two of which were recognized as subspecies at some point in the past, but are now elevated to species status, and one previously unrecognized group. This finding will assist in conservation efforts for these enigmatic primates, although survey work in Borneo suggests the new species are either very difficult to locate or that their numbers may be quite small.

There’s no word yet on whether or not this new species of loris likes playing with little cocktail umbrellas like the one in the video below, but we certainly hope that is the case, because it is adorable. Don’t find it too adorable, though — in an ugly twist, the animal’s very cuteness may be detrimental to its survival, with poachers and trappers taking lorises out of the wild and selling them in the exotic animal trade. So don’t do that, because keeping any endangered animal as a pet make you King Jerk. You don’t want to be King Jerk, do you?

(via Wildlife News)

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