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Isnachi

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Mystery Primate of South America .

Etymology: Quechua (Quechuan), “strong 
man.”

Variant names: Camuenare (Amuesha / 
Arawakan, “father of the monkeys”), Maemi 
(Machiguenga/Arawakan), Ma jero (Yine/ 
Arawakan), Maquisapa maman (Spanish, 
“mother of the spider monkeys”).

Physical description: Height, 4 feet, or about 
twice the size of a spider monkey. Covered in 
short, thick, bl ack or dark-brown hair. Muscul ar. 
Bl ack face. Snout is l ike a mandril l ’s. Long teeth. 
Barrel -chested. Thick arms. Hands have nail s, 
not cl aws. Huge thighs. Thick tail , 6 inches l ong.

Behavior: Arboreal . Usual l y sol itary but is said 
to tra vel in groups of up to twenty. Tra vel s with 
spider monkey troops. Atta cks by running on its 
hind l egs. Feeds on wil d fruits and the shoots of 
the Chonta palm (Euterpe precatoria), which it 
rips apart in a characteristic way. Makes pl atforms 
in trees for resting.

Habitat: Mountainous forest at al titudes of 
1,600–5,000 feet.

Distribution: Peru, from Loreto Department 
in the north, through Yanachaga-Chemil l én 
National Park, to the Cordil l era Urubamba.

Significant sighting: Ecuadorean botanist Benigno 
Mal o saw a l arge, bl ack ape al ong the 
Ecuador-Peru border in 1985 and managed to 
take a photograph before it moved away. The 
l ocation of the photo is currentl y unknown.

Possible explanations: 
(1) The Spectacl ed bear (Tremarctos ornatus) 
is bl ack and l ives in the area. It occasional l y 
cl imbs trees to rea ch fruit. However, its 
white eye rings woul d be hard to mista ke. 
(2) An unknown species of monkey.

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