The taxonomy of the douc and snub-nosed langurs has changed several times during the 20th century. The controversy over the systematic position of these animals has been due in part to difficulties in studying them: both the doucs and the snub-nosed langurs are rare in the wild and are generally poorly represented in institutional collections. This review is based on a detailed examination of relatively large numbers of specimens of most of the species of langurs concerned. An attempt was made to draw upon as many types of information as were available in order to make an assessment of the phyletic relationships between the langur species under discussion. Toward this end, quantitative and qualitative features of the skeleton, specific features of visceral anatomy and characteristics of the pelage were utilized. The final data matrix comprised 178 characters. The matrix was analyzed using the program Hennig86. The results of the analysis support the following conclusions: (1) that the douc and snub-nosed langurs are generically distinct and should be referred to as species of Pygathrix and Rhinopithecus, respectively; (2) that the Tonkin snub-nosed langur be placed in its own subgenus as Rhinopithecus (Presbytiscus) avunculus and that the Chinese snub-nosed langur thus be placed in the subgenus Rhinopithecus (Rhinopithecus); (3) that four extant species of Rhinopithecus be recognized: R. (Rhinopithecus) roxellana Milne Edwards, 1870; R. (Rhinopithecus) bieti Milne Edwards, 1897; R. (Rhinopithecus) brelichi Thomas, 1903, and R. (Presbytiscus) avunculus Dollman, 1912; (4) that the Chinese snub-nosed langurs fall into northern and southern subgroups divided by the Yangtze river; (5) that R. lantianensis Hu and Qi, 1978, is a valid fossil species, and (6) the precise affinities and taxonomic status of the fossil species R. tingianus Matthew and Granger, 1923, are unclear because the type specimen is a subadult.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology