New poop sample analysis reveals interspecies monkey romance
In 1994, when Kate Detwiler, then a junior in college, rode the bus to her research site in Gombe National Park, what she was going to observe wasn’t part of the mainstream scientific discourse. Chatting with other people on the bus, she says, she’d explain that she was going to observe hybrid guenons—offspring of male blue monkeys and female red-tailed monkeys. They weren’t so sure it was possible. But to Detwiler, the proof was right there in the monkeys’ distinctively-marked faces. But the proof was in the poop. Almost 25 years later, she’s the author of a new paper that offers genetic evidence of what she’s observed: in the Tanzanian national park made famous by Jane Goodall’s study of apes, two species of guenon monkey are able to interbreed and produce fertile hybrid offspring who live alongside—and sometimes interbreed with—red-tailed monkeys.