Primatologists have discovered a new monkey species located in Northern Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), with an upturned nose that causes it to sneeze when it rains. While the local residents call it “Mey nwoah” (which is interpreted as ‘monkey with an upturned face’ in English), it has been classified as “Rhinopithecus strykeri” in the honor of Jon Stryker, who founded the Arcus Foundation to support this project.

This finding has been published in the American Journal of Primatology ever since sightings of a species with an upturned nostrils and big lips were reported to be seen anywhere from the eastern Himalayas all the way to the north-eastern Kachin state in Northern Myanmar.

In order to validate these findings, biologists that consisted of team members from the Myanmar Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association, People Resources and Biodiversity Foundation and the Fauna & Flora International (FFI) discovered these species in early 2010.

The physical characteristics, as described by Thomas Geissmann and who is leading the taxonomic description, describe the monkey having black fur with white fur on their ear tufts, the perineal area and the beard. An interesting characteristic of this monkey (as described by local residents) is that since it tucks its face between its knees when it rains just to prevent rainwater from getting in its nose (that is upturned).

According to the local hunters (who provided the team with information regarding their location), this species of monkeys spend the summer months in temperate forests at altitudes but descend closer to the villages especially since snowfall makes food tough to find.

As there are an estimated number of only 260-330 of these monkeys within 270 square kilometers limited to the Maw River area, this means that these species has been classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

And while there have been reports of snub-nosed monkey species in parts of China and Vietnam, this is the first time that a new sub-nosed species has been discovered in Myanmar, and this has been attributed to the geographical barriers of the Mekong and Salween rivers that have prevented its discovery for so long now.