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Origin of vervet monkeys living Dania Beach for decades

Solid data and genetic research provide important evidence about a colony of wild vervet monkeys from Africa that landed on the Dania Beach front.

They landed on this front as well as 70 years ago and settled in a thick mangrove forest.

It is near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Worldwide Airport in South Florida.

Origin of vervet monkeys living Dania Beach for decades

General information about vervet monkeys

The non-native vervet monkey population (Chlorocebus sabaeus) living in this urban coastal area is well known and appreciated by local residents and city officials.

However, it is relatively unknown to primatologists.

Despite substantial community interest, there has been only one scientific study (early 1990s).

It is suggesting that the monkeys escaped from a roadside zoo in the 1950s and 1970s.

Until now, there has been no affirmation of the species' identification, geographic origins, or introduction history.


1. Vervet monkey species monkeys in Dania Beach

A team of scientists from Florida Atlantic University combined several methodological approaches to determine the species of Chlorocebus monkeys in Dania Beach.

The results of the study, published in the journal Primates, provide the scientific community with critical foundation information.

The results were about a little-known population of Chlorocebus monkeys that survived for decades in a new environment.

 

Through interviews, historical records and popular media, FAU scientists traced the apes to an escape from the Dania chimpanzee farm in 1948.

The facility served as a zoo in business and also provided primates imported from Africa as research subjects in the development of the polio vaccine.

Historical records and literature suggest that the monkeys were captured primarily in Sierra Leone.

Indeed, the researchers tested the hypothesis of West African origins using three genetic markers.

Namely two fragments of the Y chromosome, a mitochondrial DNA gene (cytochrome b) and the sex-determining gene and zinc finger gene.

Phylogenetic analyses confirmed that the Dania Seaside monkeys are in fact Chlorocebus sabaeus (green monkey) and are of West African origin.


2. Characteristic to identify Chlorocebus monkey

Scientists recorded the following characteristics to help identify monkey species.:

Fur color, presence or absence of a brow band, tail tip color, and scrotal color of adult males;

The constants were then compared to all species of the genus Chlorocebus in order to validate the hypothesis.

Also, to estimate the species studied using these characteristics.

"Our Dania Seashore monkeys have a golden-tipped tail and greenish-brown hair; do not have a pronounced eyebrow band around the face.

Males have a pale blue scrotum.

These phenotypic features are characteristic of Chlorocebus sabaeus," said Deborah "Missy" Williams, Ph.D.

On the Department of Biological Sciences at FAU's Charles E. Schmidt Higher Education of Science, it is responsible for the Dania Beach Front Vervet project.

For the primary objective of conserving this kind of monkeys and has been studying them for nearly ten years.

The study is conducted by Williams with Kate Detwiler, Ph.D.

They are a senior author and associate professor in the Department of Anthropology in FAU's Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters.


The origin of the Chlorocebus monkeys

This species is commonly referred to as the green monkey because of the color of its fur.

Chlorocebus species have hair colors ranging from greenish brown to grayish olive with black faces, hands, and feet.

Males have a blue scrotum and a red penis and perianum surrounded by white hair.

Green monkeys are endemic to West Africa, with a range from Senegal and western Guinea-Bissau to Ghana.

They are the most widespread African monkeys and are habitat generalists, limited only by the availability of water and sleeping trees.

"The data from our study lay the foundation for future studies to answer new questions about the status of the inhabitants.

 Also, to answer how the monkeys have adapted to the urban and industrial environment of South Florida," said Detwiler.

"Correct taxonomic identification, and history of introduced Dania Seashore monkeys is important for the community outreach and wildlife management.

They had given the remarkable ability of Chlorocebus to thrive in most environments."

Florida is home to three major free-ranging primates in the southeastern United States:

 Chlorocebus sabaeus (green monkey);

 Macaca mulatta (rhesus macaque);

 Saimiri sciureus (squirrel monkey).

These three species of primates have been introduced by various research facilities, zoos, entertainment companies, and private collections.


When West African monkeys sound the alarm

Pursued by... a drone, green monkeys were able to produce a new alarm call quickly understood by their fellow monkeys.

This suggests that the species has an innate repertoire of expressions.

The flying device was used in a study conducted by German scientists with 80 green monkeys from Senegal.

Study published on May 27, 2019 in the British scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

These monkeys, which live in West Africa, are notably recognizable by their black face bordered by white hair.

To better understand how they communicate with each other, German researchers tested their reactions to the appearance of a drone in the sky.

A "danger" that was previously unknown to them. The result: the primates started to shout in a very different way than when they see leopards or snakes.

In front of threats, they warn their fellow creatures by emitting sounds specific to each danger. After the sound "leopard", they climb in the trees.

After the "snake" alert, they come to rest on two legs.

 "The calls made in response to the drone were clearly distinguishable from those made in response to other predators," the study explains.


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