We lost one of our monkeys right at the end of this field season and while he wasn't anyone's favorite (he has a propensity to be aggressive towards females and infants) we will miss him. Dash was a small adult male in the group that has seen the most changes over the course of my field season. The conditions leading to his death remain somewhat mysterious. We saw him the month previous and he was in seemingly perfect health. However, when we returned for our last rotation with D group we found Dash by himself. When he got up to move we could see that he had lost an enormous amount of weight; we could see his hipbones protruding and he shuffled along like he'd aged a decade. There were no obvious injuries that we could see but he was pulling at his fur frequently like insects were bothering him. For the remaining few days he was alive he remained alone; even when his group passed nearby trilling he made no attempt to rejoin them.
We eventually had to start following the rest of the group and by the time we got to check on Dash again we picked up the mortality signal from his radio-collar. We searched for his remains following the signal but it had rained the previous two days and the going was slow. We finally localized the signal next to a freshly fallen tree. Crestfallen we returned to camp to wait for assistance. The next day we returned equipped with machetes and with one of the guides to help us. We began to clear the tree but still there was no sign of him. We checked the signal again and slowly searched the area. Finally Jose spotted him in a small stream just to the side of the fallen tree. Luckily the water had receded since the previous day.
Shockingly what remained of Dash (who had been dead a maximum of three days) was mainly bones. We think a combination of fish and ants must have made quick work of the fleshy parts. We recovered nearly his entire skeleton (minus a few teeth) and the radio-collar. Unfortunately, due to the state of the remains testing for possible diseases will not be feasible. We will likely never know what killed Dash but he will live on in our memories and our data.