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A Wealth of Natural History Information Gleaned from the Matses Indians of Northeastern Peru

New research has uncovered an untapped cache of data about the natural history of Amazonian mammals: the traditional knowledge of indigenous people like the Matses Indians of northeastern Peru. In a Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History published recently, mammalogist Robert Voss and linguist David Fleck, both of the American Museum of Natural History, validate local knowledge—ethnomammalogy—by directly comparing data gleaned from interviews with Matses hunters with the scientific literature. The high correlation between the two bodies of knowledge suggests that ethnomammalogy is a valid source of information for understudied species. This study is also the first systematic inventory of mammals in the remote rainforest between the Yavarí and Ucayali rivers in northeastern Peru.

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