THE TAILED SLOW LORISES OF LUSHAI HILLS – AN ENDURING PRIMATOLOGICAL MYSTERY

by on Feb.23, 2013, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from ShukerNature | Go to Original Post

Only known photograph of tailed lorises from Lushai Hills (PZSL/public domain)
Whereas some cryptids attract and retain widespread interest and attention, others are forgotten almost as soon as they are documented, even though their mystery remains unsolved. Sadly, the tailed slow lorises of Lushai Hills fall into the latter category of cryptozoology.
Overall, these white-coated, woolly-furred prosimians, two of which were captured and photographed near Fort Lungleh in Assam’s Lushai Hills during December 1889 (but not documented until 1908), seemed akin to the familiar slow lorises of the genus Nycticebus, as they possessed short but stout limbs, a large rounded head, flat face and small muzzle, short roundish ears, large eyes each encircled by a dark triangular patch, and a narrow black stripe running from the skull’s occipital region along the entire length of the back.
The Indian slow loris Nycticebus bengalensis, which only possesses a vestigial tail, depicted in a painting from 1867
However, as clearly revealed in the photograph opening this present ShukerNature blog post, and which originally appeared in a short article documenting them in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London for 1908, the remarkable loris form represented by these two captive specimens differed dramatically from all other lorises in one very conspicuous way – it had a thick bushy tail! In stark contrast, the tail of all known species of slow loris is vestigial.
Close-up of one of the captive tailed slow lorises of Lushai Hills, clearly revealing its long thick tail (PZSL/public domain)
Consequently, unless it is a teratological, freak variety of the Indian slow loris N. bengalensis, the tailed slow loris of Lushai Hills constitutes a radically new species of slow loris still awaiting official recognition – for which, in my book, The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993), I proposed Nycticebus caudatus (‘tailed slow loris’) as a suitable name.
This ShukerNature blog post is an adapted excerpt from my book The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals (Coachwhip: Landisville, 2012).

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