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Captivating callimicos

Found in the upper Amazon rainforests of southern Colombia, eastern Peru, western Brazil, and northern Bolivia, the Goeldi's marmoset or Goeldi's monkey (Callimico goeldii) are one of a kind. They are the only species classified in the genus Callimico and are often referred to as “callimicos”.

Photo Description - Springtamarin (Callimico goeldii) Photo Credit – Matthias Buehler licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 [source link:]

Goeldi’s monkeys are covered in shaggy, black hair, with possible lighter coloration around the face. Longer hairs form a mane draping from the neck and shoulders extending to the base of the tail. They have claw like nails on all digits except their large toe. The average height of these monkeys is 21 to 23 centimeters (25 to 32 centimeters including the tail).

Although the species are part of the Callitrichidae family, which includes marmosets and tamarins, the Goeldi's monkeys have many characteristics to set them apart. For example, they have three molars instead of two, they give birth to single young rather than twins, and males take on less child-rearing roles than other callitrichids.

Callimico goeldii feeds on a diet primarily of fruits, insects and small vertebrates. Unlike any other New World monkey, they also rely on mushrooms during the dry season as their main source of food when fruit is scarce. Although they feed in fruiting trees as groups, they often hunt individually – leaping to the group to find small vertebrates.

Goeldi’s monkey appears on the IUCN list as vulnerable. Potential habitat loss is considered their main threat due to proposed plans for human development and logging in their land areas.

Today, we share a 1K chromosome-length assembly for Goeldi's monkey. The assembly is based on two opportunistic blood samples: one donated by Peach, a Goeldi's monkey at the Houston Zoo, and another one from Ede at the Shedd Aquarium. The first one was used to generate the short-read sequencing draft, and the second one to create a Hi-C library for chromosome-length scaffolding. We thank the animals and their veterinary teams for their help with the samples! We are also grateful to DNA Zoo Australia team at the University of Western Australia and Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and computational support for the assembly.

See below the whole-genome alignment plot for the relationship between the 24 chromosomes in the new assembly and the 23 human chromosomes, as well as the interactive Hi-C contact map visualized using Juicer.js. Check out the assembly page for more details as usual!

Whole-genome alignment plot between the Goeldi's monkey chromosomes from the new assembly (Callimico_goeldii_HiC) and those of human (based on GRCh38 assembly).

Blog by: Ashling Charles and Parwinder Kaur

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