Poto

No currently known species of monkeys are native to Jamaica, although a handful of species have been introduced in the 19th century. Contradicting this, however, was in Irish naturalist Hans Sloane’s 1725 book A Voyage to the Islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica, as he mentions seeing “monkeys found wild in this island” in Jamaica. 

In the 1860s, a strange, monkey-like animal was exhibited in London, featuring an illustration of the animal with the title “A poto from the wilds of Jamaica.” 

Later In 1919, paleontologist Harold Anthony came across a femur and jaw belonging to a monkey in the forested interior of western Jamaica known as Cockpit Country. Not initially realizing the importance of his discovery, it was catalogued in museum archives and forgotten.

 In 1952, Ernest E. Williams and Karl F. Koopman rediscovered them and finally examined and studied the bones, proving that there used to be a species of monkey in Jamaica as recently as the 15th century. Later, other bones of the same species, dubbed Xenothrix mcgregori, or the “Jamaican monkey”, were found elsewhere on the island in the ’90s.


The discovery of the Jamaican monkey led some cryptozoologists, like Karl Shuker, to theorize these reports could indicate a much later survival of the species. Some have speculated the “poto” is a kinkajou, since the kinkajou’s genus is called “potos” and they look quite similar. On the other hand, no kinkajous live in, or have lived in, Jamaica. Although the Jamaican monkey’s unusually long tail and rather un-primate-like limbs also made them heavily resemble kinkajous.

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