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Dinagat tarsier a new Philippine tarsier species

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP) announced Wednesday, August 20, that the tarsier found on Dinagat island is a distinct species of tarsier from its relatives in other parts of the country. 

Scientists, led by Dr Perry Ong of the Institute of Biology at UP Diliman, revealed the discovery in a paper entitled "Conservation Genetics of the Philippine Tarsier: Cryptic Genetic Variation Restructures Conservation Priorities for an Island Archipelago Primate," published in the journal PLOS ONE

The scientists made the discovery after comparing the genetic makeup of the tarsiers from Dinagat-Caraga area, Bohol-Samar-Leyte area, and Zamboanga-Mindanao area, UP said in a statement.

Before this identification, several scientists have already observed the physical differences between the Dinagat tarsier and its more popular cousin in Bohol.

But Ong, in the UP statement, said the genetic tests reinforce the idea of a distinct species, especially with the fact that the physical difference were "too subtle."

The researchers hope this study can help push for further conservation of this unique animal.

"[The] identification of a new tarsier species by UP experts is welcome news and is expected to promote a new framework for tarsier protection and conservation in the country," UP President Alfredo Pascual was quoted as saying.

The researchers come from the Philippines, United States, South Korea, and Canada, UP said. – Rappler.com