A primate last seen alive 80 years ago has been spotted during a wildly successful expedition in one of the most remote parts of the Amazon, National Geographic reports. The Vanzolini bald-faced saki, a distinctive "flying monkey" that sports shaggy hair with golden highlights around its arms and legs, hadn't been seen since 1936, when it was spotted in an isolated part of the Brazilian Amazon along the border of Peru. (Dead specimens were collected 20 years later in another expedition, notes Gizmodo.) Led by Global Conservation Institute Director Laura Marsh, a team set out to find the elusive primate on a four-month expedition of the Eiru River in a cramped, two-story houseboat. Just four days into the journey, Marsh says she saw three Vanzolini saki high in the trees and immediately burst into tears.
"It was fantastic," she tells National Geographic. "I was trembling and so excited I could barely take a picture." A journalist accompanying the team documented the highs and lows of the research trip in a stunning bioGraphic photo essay. She noted that during the expedition, the team learned that a graduate student doing field research nearby obtained a skull and skins from a hunter and, scooping the very title the team had hoped to use, published a paper titled "Rediscovery of Vanzolini’s Bald-Faced Saki." But the team continued its research and plans to publish its findings in the journal Oryx later this month. As for the fate of the living Vanzolini saki population, Marsh believes conservation is key in even the most remote reaches of the rain forest. "Fishing and hunting in every little corner. Large birds were rare. Forest birds were gone." (Read about another notable sighting this year.)