Lesula’s Long Road to Discovery

It’s nice when a new word emerges from an unlikely source. Technology, social media, politics – they are often the lifeblood of neologisms and new usages. So it is a great pleasure to welcome the Lesula to the lexicon.

It is particularly welcome because this is a creature that has clearly been around for ages. In case you’ve missed it, the Lesula is only the second new species of monkey to be identified in Africa in the last 28 years. It was first seen in 2007 and further research has now confirmed its uniqueness.

It is known by the local Mbole people as Lesula, a word which is now globally familiar. This is a relief, as it is hard to imagine its scientific appendage, Cercopithecus lomamiensis, tripping off the tongue quite so easily.

The word itself seems destined for dictionary status and and is sure of its place in the English language of the future. I am pleased this should be guaranteed despite the fact it will probably not be widely used once this publicity blizzard has passed. I also like the fact that is is not a new word for a new concept and is instead a new word for something very, very old, but previously unknown. It is a specialised word, definitively describing something new, and I expect to see it acknowledged officially before too long.

But it is not the name for which this story will ultimately be remembered. It is the picture that has shot around the world of a plaintive looking money staring out into space. And I suspect people will remember that picture long after they have forgotten what it is called.

Lesula Monkey

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