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The shouting began at 3:30 a.m., in the depth of a warm Amazon
night. Above the susurrus of the river, the hiss of sediment
against the boat's wooden hull, came a strident voice.
Unintelligible clamor. Either somebody had stubbed his toe on
the way to pee over the railing, or we were in trouble.

Russell Mittermeier, president of Washington, D.C.-based
Conservation International and an eminent authority on primates,
was asleep in his hammock on the lower deck. Marc van Roosmalen,
a Dutch primate ecologist who has lived for 10 years in the
central Amazon, was bunked down there also. Two other passengers
and I had slung our hammocks upstairs behind the wheelhouse and
were placidly tucked away like a trio of dozing sloths. To my
right was the ecologist Gustavo da Fonseca, a vice president of
Conservation International and a leading conservation biologist
here in Brazil. To my left was SI's own Heinz Kluetmeier, one of
the world's loudest-snoring photographers. Our boat, an old
wooden river cruiser named the Sao Benedito, as tall and narrow
as a double-decker bus, was laboring upstream on the Rio
Madeira, a huge tributary that drains the southwestern corner of
the Amazon basin. The Madeira along this stretch, roughly 200
miles from its junction with the main-stem Amazon, is a
quarter-mile wide, chocolaty brown, powerful and swirly, and
infested with black caimans--large and ferocious crocodilians
known occasionally to gobble a human. In the comfort of
darkness, though, the river seemed to rock our boat as gently as
a cradle.

We had set out on this expedition several days earlier in search
of an extraordinary new species of monkey, and having found that
sucker, we were exultant. At sunset the previous evening,
sitting on the wheelhouse roof, we had celebrated with cold
Antarctica beer while enjoying an unspeakably lovely Amazon
vista. The western sky was lit an orangish rose, a single dugout
canoe was silhouetted in black on the broad slick of river, and
cumulus clouds towered distantly over the forest like piles of
ricotta. Then a big gibbous moon appeared overhead, and we lay
gawking up at it through binoculars. Our overnight cruise was
taking us upstream toward the town of Manicore, where we would
base ourselves for a little further reconnaissance of the local
primates, but the real work had already been done. We had taken
photos and made notebook observations of the new species, more
than enough for the three scientists to document its existence.
Nothing could destroy our good spirits now unless, ha-ha, the
boat sank. Finally we had dropped into our hammocks and slept,
while the Sao Benedito continued chugging against the current.

I'd been warned about these old, top-heavy riverboats. Lacking
stability and often overloaded, they sometimes tip, swamp and
sink. But so far ours had performed well--aside from a few
troubling moments in mid-evening, when the engine had gone
silent and we had drifted helplessly downstream while the
captain and his assistant repaired the bilge pump. If we were
swept broadside against a sandbar, I figured we would probably
capsize. But the boatmen seemed unconcerned. Got any rubber
bands? they asked us. Got any duct tape? Kluetmeier gave them a
roll of gaffer's tape, and the repair was done. Our engine
kicked back on. Everything O.K. now? we inquired. Yes, yes, no
problem. Then throughout most of the night the old diesel
maintained its steady low beat, like an interminable elephant
fart, nicely conducive to slumber.

I slept well but somewhat vigilantly. Taking a hint from the
bilge-pump episode, I sealed my notebook and passport in a
zip-lock bag and left it in a day pack within grabbing distance.
To fuss over the notebook, I realized, was probably unnecessary:
If the boat sank and the caimans didn't eat us, no doubt I'd be
able to write from memory. But taking the precaution made me
feel cozy and conscientious.

And now, suddenly, this wee-hours commotion. The strident voice
belonged to our captain, hollering what sounded at first like
the river's name: "Ma-deira! Ma-deira!" That was close but not
right. Later I would realize that, in his panicky slur, he was
yelling, "Meu Deus! Meu Deus!" Then he added, "Vamos para o

The boat was wallowing. It had settled so low that there was now
only an inch or two of freeboard below the gunwales. Downstairs,
not far from where water was inviting itself onto the lower
deck, Mittermeier remained calm. Van Roosmalen remained calm.
These guys are case-hardened tropical field biologists with many
years of experience, many miles of iffy river journeys and
expeditionary discomfort behind them. They know the whole gamut
of gruesome thrills to be faced here in the planet's greatest
jungle. They know the poisonous snakes, the bird-eating spiders,
the biting flies and flesh-boring worms, the parasitic catfish,
the tree-toppling rainstorms, the way a small scratch left to
fester can become a suppurating sore. Mittermeier even knows how
it feels to have a boat sink beneath him on one of the Amazon's
huge tributaries. Back in 1973, during his second major
expedition, he lost a motorized canoe in the heavy chop of the
Rio Negro and had to swim for his life. His camera, his
binoculars and all his other gear disappeared in the black
water--all except his lucky green plastic toothbrush cup, a
ludicrous but much-treasured talisman that he'd carried
everywhere since his college days. There he had sat, on the bank
of the Negro, wearing only a ripped swimsuit and holding that
plastic cup, while his partner said, "Well, thank god we're
still alive," and Mittermeier thought, Damn, all my equipment is
fish furniture. But the experience didn't dampen him, except
physically. Amazon fieldwork forces a certain spirit of hardy
imperturbability on its veteran practitioners. That spirit was
about to be tested again.

Upstairs, I remained calm for a different reason: I don't speak
Portuguese. I wasn't aware that "Vamos para o fundo!" means
"We're going to the bottom!"

It took a series of happy accidents, and a couple of unbrilliant
acts of impulse, to get us this deep into Amazon soup. The story
began back in April, when a strange newcomer arrived at the Van
Roosmalen household in the Brazilian city of Manaus, the gateway
to the Amazon. The newcomer, though as tiny as a mouse, was a
baby monkey--but not precisely like any monkey that Van
Roosmalen had ever seen.

Knowing that Van Roosmalen and his wife, Betty, maintain a
rearing facility for orphaned primates, a certain caboclo (a
backwoodsman of mixed white and Indian blood) offered them the
animal for adoption. It had been captured somewhere up in the
Rio Madeira drainage, the caboclo said, and brought down aboard
the ferry from Manicore, 300 miles to the south. What kind of
monkey was it? Evidently a pygmy marmoset, judging from the
size. There was only one species of pygmy marmoset known to
science: Cebuella pygmaea, the most diminutive of all South
American primates. Although its geographical distribution is
strictly bounded--the pygmy marmoset inhabits a vast area
stretching west from the Madeira but has never been recorded on
the river's east bank--it's fairly abundant within its native
range, especially along riverbanks and the edges of settlement
clearings. It doesn't seem to suffer badly from human hunting,
because it's too small to be worth killing for food. It belongs
to the family of callitrichids, which also encompasses the
larger marmosets and the tamarins.

The Van Roosmalen menagerie already harbored several Cebuella
pygmaea, and Betty, who does much of the caretaking, was
reluctant to accept another. But the caboclo brought it by
anyway: a pathetic little creature inside an empty milk can
punched with airholes. Its shrill squeaks of distress resembled
the chirps of a cricket. It seemed destined to die soon, as most
orphaned monkeys do.

When the caboclo opened the can, Marc says, "I saw immediately
it was not a common pygmy marmoset." This animal had a white
border of fur around its face and a black crown, both of which
distinguished it from Cebuella pygmaea. Its mane was shorter.
Its ears were more naked. Its tail was black and unringed
instead of brownish and ringed. "I didn't show any excitement,"
Marc says, though he felt plenty, "because the guy maybe
wouldn't have given it to me."

Betty named the new animal Dreumes, which is Dutch for "little
fellow," and began rearing him on a diet of yogurt and honey.
Several weeks later, when Mittermeier came down to Manaus from
Washington for a meeting, Marc showed him the crown-headed baby
to get a second opinion about the animal's identity. As
Mittermeier recalls, "I took a look at it and said, 'It's new!'"

That novelty seemed more than a little remarkable. Only about
240 species of primate exist in the world, and finding a new
species anywhere would be an important scientific event. Barely
more than a handful have been discovered in the past decade, and
those only because of increased attention by scientists at work
in remote corners of the last great strongholds of tropical rain
forest, such as Madagascar and Brazil. And no place has been so
rich in new finds as this Rio Madeira region of the Amazon,
where four new species of marmoset have been recognized just
since 1990.

Both Mittermeier and Van Roosmalen have devoted close study to
the callitrichid family, which contains about 30 species of
marmoset and tamarin spread across Amazonia (a
2.7-million-square-mile area that covers much of northern Brazil
and parts of eight other South American countries) and the
Atlantic coastal forest of southeastern Brazil. "You see one
that's different," Mittermeier says, "and it just jumps out at
you and says, 'Hey, look at me!'"

What he found himself looking at was a perplexing form: an
unfamiliar animal combining a mix of familiar traits, both
physical and behavioral, that seemed to put it somewhere between
the pygmy marmoset, which is roughly the size of a chipmunk, and
the full-sized Amazonian marmosets of the genus Callithrix,
which are the size of squirrels. "All the marmoset people are
gonna go nuts when they hear about this thing," Mittermeier
said. "Because it's basically the missing link--between Cebuella
and Callithrix."

Why should that linkage drive anyone nutty? Well, prevailing
opinion holds that the callitrichids are the most primitive of
all South American primates--meaning not that they're less
intelligent or less equipped for survival but merely that they
have retained more of their basic ancestral design. Furthermore,
Cebuella pygmaea is considered the most primitive of the
callitrichids, representing an early form from which all those
larger monkeys descended. If Van Roosmalen's pygmy marmoset is
really a missing link, it embodies transitional attributes that
might lead to fresh insights on primate evolution in the
Americas. But it also presents a fresh mystery: Why has this
link been missing? If Cebuella pygmaea has thrived throughout a
large region west of the Rio Madeira, and the Callithrix lineage
has expanded and diversified throughout a large region east of
the Madeira, where has the intermediate species been hiding?

The next step for Van Roosmalen was to trace Little Fellow back
to the creature's native home. With money obtained by
Mittermeier from the California-based Margot Marsh Biodiversity
Foundation, Van Roosmalen launched a search expedition in July.
He was accompanied by his teenage son, Tomas, a precocious
naturalist, and by a burly, capable boat jockey and all-purpose
expedition wrangler named Valquemar Souza de Araujo, who chose
amiably to be called Gordo, meaning Fats. Starting in Manicore,
they explored the neighboring areas in a rented speedboat,
visiting riverbank settlements and showing photos of Little
Fellow to the caboclos there, asking hundreds of people if they
had ever seen any such monkey. Many said yes--"Tem muito, tem
muito," meaning, "There's plenty"--but it became clear that the
caboclos didn't distinguish between Little Fellow and other
native marmosets of the region. When the Van Roosmalen team
tried to substantiate each report with their own forest
observations, all they saw were the familiar pygmy marmoset on
the west side of the Madeira and the familiar full-sized
marmosets on the east side. After two weeks they returned to
Manaus, frustrated.

They had hoped, too, that they might find another of the new
animals in captivity and be able to ransom it as a mate for
Little Fellow. No luck with that, either. Meanwhile, Little
Fellow had survived infancy and entered adolescence, changing
his color pattern slightly but remaining distinct, growing into
a creature for which primate taxonomy had no slot or label.

In November, with a second grant brokered by Mittermeier, Van
Roosmalen and Gordo tried again. Again they went upriver to
Manicore, and again they found only familiar marmosets. But this
time on the return trip they stopped at another town, Novo
Aripuana, about a hundred miles downriver near the confluence of
the Madeira and a tributary, the Rio Aripuana. Maybe, Van
Roosmalen guessed wildly, Little Fellow had been brought down
this river before being put aboard the ferry. Maybe they should
go up and snoop around. Gordo concurred: He had a palpite, an
intuition, that they'd find the monkey up there. So they rented
another speedboat to explore the Rio Aripuana. Along the east
bank they found only familiar marmosets, but from the young wife
of one caboclo they heard that, near her father's settlement, on
the west bank, lived some tiny monkeys. Van Roosmalen had no
faith in such reports anymore, but he decided to check on this
one anyway.

He and Gordo hit a rainstorm on the river; they ran out of
gasoline; everything seemed to be going wrong. But Gordo was
still talking about his palpite. "We find him now," he said.
"You will see. Fifty minutes from now, we find the monkey." They
docked at the place they'd been directed to, beside an old river
cruiser called the Sao Benedito, which seemed to be permanently
docked there, rotting out its last years among a handful of
dugout canoes. The two men climbed a high bank to a cluster of
simple caboclo houses and met the patriarch of the settlement,
Antonio da Silva Pereira, a short man with a quiet smile, thick
arms and a sparse salt-and-pepper beard. For the umpteenth time,
Van Roosmalen described the object of their quest. One of
Pereira's grown sons said, "Come, there's a little monkey like
that right near my house." The son led the way to a recently
cut-and-burned clearing, at the edge of which stood a forked
tree, its two slender trunks rising from a pile of dried slash.
"And then I saw them," Van Roosmalen recalls.

He saw a family group of four or five animals, all looking very
much like Little Fellow. They skittered up and down the trunks,
paused, lowered their faces to nibble carbohydrate-rich sap from
pock-rimmed holes they had gouged through the bark. That
behavior was characteristic of the common pygmy marmoset. But
these animals had an uncommon appearance. Their tails were long
and dark. Their ears, naked. They had crowns of black fur. They
weren't Cebuella pygmaea; then again, they weren't some sort of
Callithrix species. They were only themselves, a new and
confusing piece in the puzzle of Amazon primate evolution.

Less than two weeks after hearing about Van Roosmalen's find,
Mittermeier was back in Manaus. And now I was with him, equipped
with malarial medicine, rubber boots, insect repellent, a
first-aid kit, tropical-weight field pants, a water filter and a
folding knife, though not yet aware that I also should have
brought a life jacket.

Kluetmeier had come too, and as we sat in the lobby of the Hotel
Tropical, a luxurious place overlooking the Rio Negro just a few
miles from its confluence with the Amazon, Mittermeier spread
out a large multicolored map and began briefing us about our
itinerary. I already knew we would revisit the site where Van
Roosmalen had glimpsed the new monkey--to confirm the animal's
uniqueness (we hoped) and to capture its image (Kluetmeier
hoped) on film--and then do some scouting in adjacent areas. To
get there, I knew, we'd fly to a small airfield upriver on the
Madeira and proceed onward by boat. Beyond that, the details
were blurry.

Truth is, Kluetmeier and I had flown to Brazil with little more
to go on than Mittermeier's reputation as a dashing but very
serious conservationist and his personal assurance that a new
species of primate was about to be added to the records of
science. Be prepared to travel light and rough, Mittermeier had
warned me by telephone, and if I had any special medical
necessities, he said, "better bring them yourself. This will be
one of my usual shoestring operations. I take aspirin, tincture
of opium, and hydrogen peroxide, and that's it." Peroxide for
dousing external infections and aspirin for minor pain. The
tincture of opium might be useful, I supposed, for despair.

Mittermeier's map showed Amazonia sectored into big blocks of
color corresponding to Amazonas, Para, Mato Grosso and six other
Brazilian states. Those divisions are relevant to bureaucrats
but not to monkeys. Amazonia overall contains great primate
diversity--a hearty gumbo of marmosets, tamarins, howler
monkeys, spider monkeys, night monkeys, squirrel monkeys, woolly
monkeys and capuchins, among others, amounting to at least 58
species, not counting the new one. The significant boundaries,
as far as primate evolution is concerned, are not the surveyed
borders but the big rivers. Since most monkey species are
disinclined to swim, they seldom cross rivers except by perilous
happenstance. So the three main waterways of the western half of
the Amazon basin--the Madeira, the Rio Negro and the main-stem
Amazon (known in Brazil as the Solimoes), which converge near
Manaus--isolate wedges of habitat almost as effectively as the
Pacific Ocean isolates the Galapagos Islands. Isolation is
conducive to the evolution of new species, so the various wedges
harbor different sorts of monkeys.

This insight has an interesting history. In the mid-19th
century, an intrepid English naturalist named Alfred Russel
Wallace noticed the isolating effect of these rivers and
described it in a paper titled "On the Monkeys of the Amazon,"
published five years before Charles Darwin's The Origin of
Species. The Amazon monkeys provided one pattern of data among
many that led Wallace, after further years of fieldwork and a
near-fatal shipwreck, to his theory of evolution by natural
selection. It happened to be the same theory as Darwin's, and it
was propounded in a manuscript that Darwin saw before his own
book went to press. Has credit been given where credit is due?
Never mind, that's a different story of scientific adventure,
discovery and unreliable boats. The point is that Amazon monkeys
and the rivers that isolate them hold special status in the saga
of evolutionary theory. And that saga continues today.

Mittermeier was bent eagerly over the map. "This is a hotbed of
evolution," he said, circling his finger around an area along
the lower Rio Madeira. "It has the greatest concentration of new
primates found in the second half of the century." He was
referring in particular to the marmosets, to which those four
new species recently were added and another three or four may
soon be confirmed. Mittermeier himself had cowritten the formal
description of one of the new marmosets. But his role in such
dry, taxonomic documentation hadn't dimmed his explorer's
enthusiasm. "It's just unbelievable," he said, putting his hands
to his head. "And look how close it is to Manaus.

"But the star of the area is this Cebuella," he added, meaning
Van Roosmalen's pygmy marmoset, still so new that it had no
species name of its own.

Its star quality derives partly from its position in the primate
family tree, partly from its position in geographical space. And
the matter of geographical space brings us back to a question
posed earlier: Why has the new species remained undiscovered
until now? The answer seems to be that it was easily overlooked
because it occupies only a minuscule geographic area, a little
triangle of habitat between the Madeira and the Rio Aripuana,
possibly the smallest distribution of any Amazon primate. That
answer leads toward all sorts of complex ecological
factors--including competition between closely related forms,
and barriers to travel--that can restrict a species from
extending its geographical scope. It also raises another simple
question: How did the pioneering ancestors of Little Fellow ever
cross such a formidable barrier as the Rio Madeira?

There's more to that barrier than the problem of a long-distance
swim. In fact, Mittermeier said, we'd have to be wary of
swimming in the Madeira ourselves. During most trips like this,
Mittermeier indulges himself at the end of each sweaty workday
with a dip in whatever stream is nearby. The drill is that you
watch your step, shuffle your feet in the shallows to avoid
stepping on a stingray, don't swallow a mouthful downstream from
a village, and generally you're O.K. But not in the Madeira. No,
thanks--not this stretch of it, anyway, known to harbor an
unholy abundance of black caimans. Black caimans make the
Madeira a river of no mercy.

Next morning we flew south out of Manaus aboard a chartered
two-engine Piper, following the wide, brown Madeira upstream to
its junction with the Aripuana. The forest canopy looked like a
dimpled upholstery of deep olive-green, faintly highlighted with
hundreds of subtler shades (reflecting species diversity) and
set off with bright chartreuse around lakes and slow-water
channels (reflecting the reedy vegetation of the shallows). The
farther we got from Manaus, the less evidence we saw of human
presence. "There's nobody here," said Mittermeier, who has seen
more than his share of heavily logged and settled rain forests.
"This is still one of the great wilderness areas of the world."
In less than an hour we landed on a red-clay airstrip at Novo
Aripuana, where at least one symptom of human impact was
manifest: dozens of black vultures circling over the town dump.

Gordo met us at the dock. He loaded our gear into a small
aluminum boat mounted with a Yamaha 25-horsepower outboard, and
we all climbed aboard, six of us crowded into this little
runabout: Van Roosmalen and Gordo in back, Mittermeier and
Fonseca in front, and Kluetmeier and me on the middle seat,
gaping ingenuously at everything. We passed through the mixing
zone, at the confluence of the two rivers--that stark interface
where the dark tea of the Aripuana (a "blackwater" river in
Amazon terminology, darkened by tannins and other chemicals from
decayed vegetation) meets the silt-laden water (turbid brown,
though the terminology calls it "whitewater") of the Madeira.
Then Gordo juiced the Yamaha, swinging us decisively into the

The Aripuana is a peculiar river, striated with long, thin
islands that stretch in some cases for miles and aren't
recognizable as islands except at either end. It's hard to tell
at any moment if you're in the main channel, or even whether
there is a main channel. The shape of the islands is related to
the fact that the Aripuana drains an extremely flat basin. That
flatness, besides contributing to slow flow, prolonged seasonal
flooding of the lowlands and the leaching process that blackens
the water, also results in occasional shifts of current to one
side or another of a low strip of land, continually creating and
abolishing long channels. Over time a strip of terrain once
connected to the west bank might find itself insulated in the
middle of the river and, still later, subsumed into the east
bank. Plants and animals inhabiting that strip might find
themselves thus transferred from west to east. It's a magical
sort of dry-shod crossing that's less apt to occur on a
whitewater river like the Madeira, which flows too fast and
heavily for such gentle meandering.

Then how could a monkey ever cross the Madeira? How could the
ancestors of Little Fellow have gotten to the east bank of the
river, where they first became isolated from the larger
population of Cebuella? One possible answer is what Mittermeier
and others call "the waifing hypothesis."

This hypothesis derives its plausibility from two aspects of
pygmy marmoset behavior: The animals live along riverbanks,
where periodic flooding causes drastic erosion, and they sleep
in tree hollows. If a family of pygmy marmosets were sleeping in
a tree hollow on the Madeira's west bank when that tree toppled
into the current, they would wake to find themselves waiflike
castaways on a floating log. If the log later washed up against
another bank, the marmosets probably would jump ashore. If it
happened to be the east bank, they would have achieved a safe
crossing of that seemingly merciless river.

This is the hypothesis that Mittermeier and Van Roosmalen favor.
Erosion, chance and behavioral traits combined to transfer
Little Fellow's ancestors east of the Madeira; the Madeira and
the Aripuana kept them isolated in that little triangle of
habitat; time and evolution did the rest.

After several hours of motoring up the Aripuana, we hadn't seen
a single house. The banks along both sides were fronted by tall
trees and thick understory, draped with lianas, virtually
unmarked by humans. "Does it look pretty much the same the whole
way?" asked Kluetmeier, not from impatience but from a
photographer's curiosity about representative scenery. Yep,
Mittermeier answered, pretty much the same. But he reminded us
that behind the apparent sameness lay wonders of novelty and
diversity. "These rivers are all so different," he said. They
all present that wall of greenery, but when you investigate
particular groups of creatures--mammals or beetles or trees--the
diversity of species is incredible. "Finding a new monkey in
this is like finding a needle in a haystack," Mittermeier said.
"A very large haystack. And a very small monkey."

Four scarlet macaws crossed overhead. A river dolphin surfaced
in front of us, gulped a breath, then disappeared. Three hours
along, we caught sight of a small clearing on the left bank; it
turned out to be a graveyard, bare dirt sprouting a dozen crude
crosses. Not far above that was a single house. Then again, for
miles, unbreached curtains of green. Finally on the right
appeared another clearing, with a handful of houses atop a high
bank, a tall forked tree standing just at the brow of the bank
and an old two-story riverboat tied up below.

"There it is," Mittermeier said, indicating the boat. "There's
our house for the next few days." Faded paint on the side
declared it the Iate Sao Benedito, a slightly overblown claim if
iate is translated literally as "yacht." It looked like the
derelict hulk of a small cargo hauler. But at least it would
give us a place to hang hammocks while we were camped here.

We climbed the bank, paid our respects to Antonio da Silva
Pereira, followed Van Roosmalen to the tree and beheld four
little monkeys darting up and down its trunks, which were marked
with pock-rimmed holes. These monkeys were barely bigger than
chipmunks. Their ears were naked, their faces were pink. They
paused at one hole or another, eating sap. They glanced
occasionally toward us as we stood in plain sight with our
binoculars deployed and our cameras crackling, but they didn't
show much concern. They made chirping noises. With the exception
of Little Fellow, back at Van Roosmalen's house, they resembled
nothing I'd ever seen.

So we had our success, confirming the existence of an intriguing
new species. Then, after two days of monkey-watching and of
enjoying Pereira's gracious caboclo hospitality, we performed
our first unbrilliant act of impulse: chartering the Sao Benedito.

Rather than spend long hours sun-blasted and seat-weary in the
runabout, we decided to have Pereira fire up the big boat and
take us back downriver and then up the Madeira to
Manicore--yes!--in comfort and style. We said our goodbyes to
the people of the settlement, also to the monkeys, and sailed
away cheerily. We lounged on the upper deck, watching the banks
of the Aripuana sweep by. At the confluence we passed from
blackwater back into brown and headed up the mighty Madeira. We
climbed to the wheelhouse roof and toasted the Amazon sunset
with cold beers.

The second unbrilliant act, I suppose, was going to sleep on a
riverboat whose bilge pump had been repaired with gaffer's tape.
But at least I had taken that precaution with my notebook and
passport, leaving them waterproofed in a day pack within reach.

My first thought, when I woke to Pereira's hollering, was that I
wouldn't need to get alarmed if Fonseca, in the next hammock,
didn't get alarmed. He spoke the language, after all, whereas
for all I knew, "Meu Deus! Meu Deus! Vamos para o fundo!" meant
"Half past three, everything's fine, go back to sleep!" Then I
saw Fonseca spring out of his hammock as though a centipede had
bitten him on the butt. So I sprang too, grabbing the precious
day pack and running for the ladder.

On the way I roused Kluetmeier from his snoring. He scrambled
into motion, bagging up his film and his unenviable load of
cameras. Good luck, Heinz! Van Roosmalen was busy somewhere on
the lower deck. Mittermeier was there too, ready to lend a hand,
hoping the situation might yet be salvaged. But his first move,
he admitted later, had been to lay hold of his green plastic
toothbrush cup, still lucky--or, anyway, still with him--after
all these years. When time came to abandon ship, he'd carry
that, if nothing else.

It was Gordo who saved us all. As the river lapped onto the
lower deck and the engine drowned in bilge, he clambered into
the runabout, which was tethered near the stern, and cranked up
that Yamaha outboard. Putting all 25 horsepower into it, he
could barely push the Sao Benedito, like a weak tugboat pushing
an overloaded barge. He aimed us leftward through the darkness
toward the Madeira's east bank, the same one on which a waifish
family of pygmy marmosets had once made landfall.

I climbed over the railing. When I felt the bow of the big boat
stab into mud, I jumped.

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY HEINZ KLUETMEIER [Face of a Dreumes "Little Fellow" monkey]

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY HEINZ KLUETMEIER Van Roosmalen (right) and Mittermeier needed only one look at Little Fellow to see that he was not like other marmosets and represented a new primate species. [Russell Mittermeier with the Little Fellow monkey on his shoulder and Marc van Roosmalen]

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY HEINZ KLUETMEIER The Sao Benedito nearly sank on the Rio Madeira, which separates the habitat of Cebuella pygmaea (green) from those of the new species (red) and Callithrix (brown). [Sao Benedito riverboat]

TWO COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS [See caption above--map showing location of Rio Madeira region in Brazil; detail showing habitats of existing and new species of monkeys along the Rio Madeira]

THREE COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY HEINZ KLUETMEIER Little Fellow (opposite, top) and his kind may represent the missing link between the common pygmy marmoset (bottom) and its larger cousins. [The Dreumes "Little Fellow" monkey; hand holding a pygmy marmoset monkey; larger pygmy marmoset monkey]

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY HEINZ KLUETMEIER A caboclo guide (left) accompanied Mittermeier (center) and Fonseca to the tree where the object of their search lives. [Guide with Russell Mittermeier and Gustavo da Fonseca, who are looking through binoculars; a "Little Fellow" monkey in tree]

B/W PHOTO Wallace's studies of Amazonian primates helped him develop the theory of natural selection around the same time as Darwin. [Alfred Russel Wallace]