Paging J.K. Rowling. I repeat: paging J.K. Rowling.
It seems we have been duped, my fellow Potter fans, and a new enemy grows strong in our confusion. If you thought the last Horcrux was destroyed after the Battle of Hogwarts, it’s time for a trip to the Himalayas. For hiding there, in the most remote, icy peaks of the mountain range, is the spawn of Lord Volde–erm, you know who. Meet the baby Yunnan snub-nosed monkey.
In all honesty, it’s hard to find a nerdy reference that doesn’t look like this bizarre creature. It’s World New’s Batboy, meets Gollum, meets Gizmo, meets the Penny Dreadful witches – and it’s undeniably cool.
While only the babies boast ghostly white coats, adult Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) are far from “plain Jane.” The animals lack nasal bones, their lips are pink and puffed, and they’re rocking a permanent pair of blackout sclera lenses.
Yunnan’s feed almost exclusively on lichen, and it’s possible that their flattened faces help them do it. While not very nutritious, lichen is abundant in the Himalayan high-forests, and you can imagine how scraping the stuff off tree trunks would be easier without a hard nose in the way. That’s only speculation, and because of their choice in habitat, the monkeys remain shrouded in mystery. In fact, we only began studying them in the late ’90s.
Cooler still, the mini-morts have been spotted forming super-hordes of 200-600 individuals. Some experts suggest that the monkeys are able to blend troops because lichen is so easy to come by. Without the need to compete for food, forming a large group suddenly becomes a great way to spot for predators (and solidify the plan to avenge your Dark-Lord daddy.)
As we continue to expand our reach across the Pale Blue Dot, Yunnan snub-noses are losing their habitat to the agriculture and timber industries. They’re the most endangered of China’s three snub-nosed species, but certainly not the only ones worth protecting. Take a look at the golden snub-nosed monkey. (Yeah, and the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.)
HT: Earth Touch News
IMAGES: PBS Nature/YouTube, Warner Bros