London, July 22 (ANI): Fossilised remains of a tiny, extinct monkey have been retrieved from an underwater cave in the Dominican Republic.
On examination, scientists said that the fossil could be around 3,000 years old, but believe the species itself could be very ancient.
This reveals clues about the origin of primates in the region.
It also suggests that many ecologically valuable treasures could be discovered by the unusual field of "underwater palaeontology".
Dr Alfred Rosenberger from Brooklyn College in New York, US, led the examination of the creature's bones, and explained that the bones, which included a skull that was almost complete, were found by a team of scuba divers who were exploring an underwater cave in the area.
"It's miraculous that they even saw it," the BBC quoted him as saying.
"When they discovered it, they were fearful the bones were exposed, so they moved the material to a little nook to protect it," he added.
After seeking official permission to remove the fossil from the cave, Rosenberger returned to with the scuba divers to retrieve it in October of last year.
The divers packed the skeleton into tupperware boxes in order to bring it safely to the surface.
However, they were surprised after examining the shape of the legs of the monkey fossil.
"Its femur or thigh bone was very thick. So it had sort of stout legs, which is something we didn't expect. We don't really have any living examples of New World monkeys that have stout legs like that," said Rosenberger.
He said that it may have behaved similarly to a koala bear - clinging to the trunks of trees, rather than leaping from branch to branch.
The study has been published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B. (ANI)