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'Sneezing Monkey' species discovered in Myanmar

A digitally altered image shows the snub-nosed monkey found in Myanmar. (Dr. Thomas Geissmann/AFP/Getty Images)

At first glance, it seemed such an adorable, happy story: a new species of monkeys had been discovered in the jungles of Myanmar, and the monkey just happens to sneeze every time it rains.

Sneezing monkeys! How cute is that?

Well, the National Geographic reports:

The only scientifically observed specimen (pictured above) had been killed by local hunters the time researchers found it -- and was eaten soon after.

The monkey, well known to locals in Myanmar, has a snub, upturned nose. When it rains, the water falling into its nose causes it to sneeze. The sound helps hunters track the monkey down.

The local demand for the meat is just one reason why it's considered at risk. Its local habitat is also being eradicated by the logging industry.

The depressing news comes on the heels of a study released Tuesday by the journal Science that a global extinction crisis looms.

Forces such as habitat destruction, over-exploitation and invasive competitors move 52 species a category closer to extinction each year. (See a gallery of threatened species here.)

In the meantime, here's another sneezing monkey:

By Melissa Bell  | October 27, 2010; 5:16 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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