Lesula

Lesula is a monkey that was discovered relatively recently. Naturalists and researchers actively observe these animals, although they have long been known among the natives of equatorial Africa. These primates are agile and curious, which is why they often find themselves near human settlements.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Lesula

Photo: Lesula

The full name of this species is Cercopithecus lomamiensis. Lesulu was discovered in the home of an African teacher in 2007 and was the first monkey species discovered since 2003. Lesula was known to the locals for a long time, but the scientific description of the monkey happened only in 2007.

Video: Lesula

Lesula belongs to the monkey family. The last time the red-tailed monkey was included in the genus of monkeys was in 1984 in Gabon, so the lesula is also the first monkey assigned to the marmoset family in the 21st century. The marmoset family is one of the largest among primates. This includes monkeys of various sizes and with different dietary and lifestyle habits.

The family is divided into two large groups:

  • marmosets in the narrow sense. This includes baboons, mandrills, geladas, and other hard-bodied monkeys. As a rule, the tails of such monkeys are shortened, they lead a predominantly terrestrial lifestyle, are omnivorous, have pronounced ischial calluses;
  • thin-bodied. Small primates that live in trees. They have different colors, mostly camouflage. The tails are generally long, but have no prehensile function. Such primates include lesulas, as well as kazi, langurs, proboscis and many other monkeys.

Appearance and features

Photo: What a lesula looks like

Photo: What a lesula looks like

Lesulas are relatively small members of the monkey family. There is slight sexual dimorphism in size. Males reach a length of 65 cm, excluding the tail, weigh up to 7 kg. Females have a maximum length of 40 cm and a weight of up to 4 kg.

Lesuls have a brown-brown color. Individual hairs of the upper cover are very stiff, therefore they form small protruding bundles resembling feathers. The color is gradient: the upper back has a slightly reddish tint, the head, belly, neck and the inside of the paws are light gray or white. Monkeys have small yellow sideburns, which can sometimes turn into a light green shade.

Fun fact: Lesul are called monkeys with a human face.

The hind limbs of the Lesul are much longer than the forelimbs, but the fingers on both pairs of paws are equally well developed. Monkeys use them to grab tree branches. The tail of the lesul is almost twice as long as the monkey's body. From its length, it can be judged that lesuls often jump from branch to branch, and the tail at the same time performs the function of a “rudder”.

The front part of the lesul is pink, has no hairline. They have a long thin nose with dense cartilage, a poorly developed lower jaw, and large light brown or green eyes. Large brow ridges hang over the eyes, forming folds.

Where does the lesula live?

Photo: Lesula in Africa

Photo: Lesula in Africa

Lesula was discovered quite recently, therefore, research on the habitat of this species is still underway.

It was reliably established that lesulas live in the following places:

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  • Central Africa;
  • the mouth of the Lomami River;
  • the Chuala River Basin.

Monkeys are endemic to the African equator, preferring tropical and subtropical climates. There is debate about their exact lifestyle, but certain conclusions can be drawn from the physiological characteristics of monkeys.

For example, it can be reliably stated that these representatives of monkeys live in trees by analogy with their closest relatives. Moreover, lesulas are able to stay even on thin branches due to their relatively low weight. Lesul's leg structure, in which the hind legs are longer than the front ones, does not allow them to be good runners, but allows them to jump far.

The tail of the lesul is also evidence of their arboreal lifestyle. It is adapted to control jumps – during the flight, the monkey can slightly change the trajectory, adjust the landing site and move more efficiently on unstable surfaces. The toes on the front and hind legs are grasping and strong enough to hold the monkey. Lesul is rarely seen on earth – mostly monkeys go down there to pick up overripe fruits that have fallen from trees.

Now you know where the lesula is found. Let's see what this monkey eats.

What does the lesula eat?

Photo: Lesula Monkey

Photo: Lesula Monkey

Lesulas are completely herbivores. Their main diet is fruits, berries and green leaves growing high on trees. Although some monkeys are omnivores, lesuls are still classified as herbivorous primates, since cases of predation in their relation have not been noticed.

The diet of lesuls includes:

  • seeds;
  • roots;
  • resin from young trees;
  • fruits, vegetables and berries.

Interesting fact: Local residents often noticed lesul stealing vegetables and fruits from vegetable gardens near villages.

The fruits that have fallen to the ground from trees are considered a special delicacy of the lesula. As a rule, these are overripe sweet fruits, for which monkeys are ready to descend even from a great height. Partly due to this behavior, lesulas were noticed by naturalists.

To eat food, these monkeys use their limbs. Lesuls have rather long fingers, which can not only hold branches while the monkey eats leaves and small berries from them. With the help of such a structure of hands, lesulas can hold large fruits in a canopy and eat them.

There is also an assumption that lesulas are able to eat the bark of trees due to the slightly convex structure of the jaw. Japanese short-tailed macaques have a similar feature. The fact is that lesul is often noticed in young trees, and in the places where these monkeys are distributed, the soft bark is peeled off. It can be concluded that Lesuls eat it reluctantly or eat not to saturate, but for, for example, brushing their teeth or getting rid of parasites.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: African Lesula

Photo: African Lesula

Lesulas prefer to be secretive. They settle in flocks of 5-10 individuals on the tops of trees, rarely leave their usual habitats, and are tied to a specific territory. There are lesulas in the flock, which are related, therefore, in such a group, as a rule, there are several generations.

Lesuls are naturally curious. They often break into people's homes if they don't feel threatened. They often steal small household items such as cutlery, but they are most interested in crops. Because of this and other reasons, the lesoul is being hunted.

A hierarchical system operates in a flock of lesuls, but not as strong as that of baboons or geladas. There is an adult male leader who guards the flock, as well as several females who are in equal relations with each other. The family may also include several other young males, but generally the rest of the males prefer to stay apart from the family.

Lesuls are rarely aggressive towards each other. Naturalists note that monkeys are very loud-voiced, and their cries are melodic. It is the sound system that serves for various emotional signals, including the expression of aggression. Lesuls prefer to have “sonic” fights than to engage in close confrontation.

Like other monkeys, lesulas have a system of grooming each other. They comb their hair, eat parasites and take care of family members in every possible way, regardless of the hierarchy of individuals.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Cub lesula

Photo: Lesula cub

Naturalists have not yet established a clear framework for the breeding season of Lesul, but the mating season falls approximately in the spring-summer period before the rainy season. At this time, the males, keeping aloof from the families of the females, begin to gradually approach them. Lesuls are especially active at night, when males begin to call females with melodic singing, similar to birdsong.

Males do not arrange open fights, as some species from the marmoset family do. Females choose the most attractive male by singing. At the same time, the leader of the group does not have a monopoly on mating with females – they themselves choose the future father of the offspring.

The courtship of the lesula does not last long. The male sings “serenades” to the female, combs her hair, after which mating takes place. After mating, the male does not take any part in raising the cubs, but begins to sing again, attracting new females. This behavior is not typical for marmosets, so research and refinement of this phenomenon is still ongoing among scientists.

There is also no reliable data on the period of pregnancy of the female. At the end of the pregnancy, she gives birth to two, less often – one or three cubs. At first, the cubs hold tightly to the mother's stomach and drink milk. The mother easily moves between the trees and does not lose dexterity, despite such a load. As soon as the cubs grow up, they move to the mother's back.

Cubs are brought up by lesuls collectively. Particularly active in the upbringing of the younger generation are the old primates of non-reproductive age, around which a kind of nursery is formed. Lesulas reach adult reproductive age by approximately two years.

Lesula natural enemies

Photo: What a lesula looks like

Photo: Lesula looks like

Like other small monkeys, the lesula is an animal that is hunted by many predators.

The following animals can be classified as such predators:

  • jaguars, leopards, panthers are large cats, who prefer larger prey than monkeys, but will not miss the opportunity to hunt lesul. They also pose a danger to these monkeys also because they skillfully climb trees. These big cats are incredibly stealthy, so they use surprise when attacking;
  • pythons are also dangerous for lesulas, and especially for cubs. They are invisible among the foliage and can climb to the very tops of trees;
  • crocodiles are a danger to monkeys when they go down to a watering hole;
  • large birds of prey can also attack lesul when they climb onto too high points. This is the rarest option, since large birds of prey prefer not to descend into the middle and lower layers of forests, and lesulas do not rise to high altitudes, where these birds mainly hunt.

Lesuls are defenseless against predators, so all they can do is notify their relatives of the danger. Thanks to their loud piercing cry, the lesulas quickly understand that the enemy is nearby, so they hide in dense thickets on the tops of trees.

Population and species status

Photo: Lesula

Photo: Lesula

and set the status of this species. Naturalists are discovering more and more groups of lesuls in the dense forests of equatorial Africa, but their numbers are relatively small.

Aborigines actively hunt lesuls for a number of reasons:

  • Firstly, lesuls harm crops because they tend to steal crops and even break into people's houses;
  • secondly, lesul meat, like the meat of other monkeys, is suitable for consumption and is even considered a delicacy in some regions of Africa;
  • also lesul fur is quite thick and dense, so it can be made from clothing, household items or accessories.

Due to the uncertain status, scientists have conflicting opinions. Some argue that the main population of Lesul lives in the impenetrable jungle, where naturalists have yet to reach. Others believe that due to the widespread hunting of local residents, lesouls can be considered an endangered species. However, these monkeys do not yet have official status.

Lesuls are unusual and little-studied monkeys that the scientific community has yet to get to know. Active research, which is being conducted on the discovered groups of monkeys, is gradually yielding results. Therefore, it is worth hoping that soon the lesula will become a more studied species of the monkey family.

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