New tarsier species found

Photo taken by researcher Melizar Duya shows a Dinagat tarsier, which has darker hair and skin than its Bohol cousin.

A team of 16 researchers from various countries, including biologists from the University of the Philippines, has confirmed a new tarsier species in the Dinagat Islands and northeast Mindanao.

Genetic sampling, according to a recently published study on PLOS ONE (, showed the existence of a previously unidentified lineage of tarsiers, which researchers dubbed as the Dinagat-Caraga variant.

Two other evolutionary lineages of tarsiers were identified in the study — the Bohol-Samar-Leyte and the Mindanao variants.

Biologist Perry Ong, in an article released on the UP website, said the Dinagat tarsier has darker hair and skin.

The researchers said conservation strategies should be refined in light of this discovery, noting that members of the new lineage live in economically impoverished areas, lacking low-elevation protected areas.

“Such an approach will greatly enhance the prospects for continued survival of this endemic primate and, combined with many other recent discoveries in the country, will contribute to the recognition of the archipelago as a globally significant biodiversity conservation priority,” they said.

Mining operations in the area are also seen as a possible threat to the remaining suitable habitat of the new variant of tarsiers.

Researchers also noted that current conservation efforts only involve the tarsier sanctuary in Bohol Island while another is being planned in Leyte.

“Would these two, and only these two, efforts adequately conserve genetic components of Philippine tarsier diversity? We argue that they would not,” said the study.

“We argue that such an approach would fail to conserve the genetic variation elucidated here,” it added. via The Philippine Star

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