If Lord Voldemort were to spend 500 years in a cave clutching his "precious", he might emerge looking something like a baby snub-nosed monkey. 

I mean, come on.

monkey voldemort gollum_2016_01_27

Native to the highest peaks in the Himalayas, the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti) is one of the strangest-looking primates around. The animals' eyes are jet black, their ears are suspiciously elfin-like and their skulls lack nasal bones, leaving two cavernous nostrils in their stead. 

We knew almost nothing about these elusive creatures until the late '90s, and to this day, they are rarely seen. But this incredible clip from PBS Nature's Mystery Monkeys of Shangri-La takes us deep into China's high-altitude forests for a unique glimpse at their lives.

The Yunnan is the most endangered of China's three snub-nosed monkey species, and its preference for the region's loftiest peaks means you'll find it living higher up than any other primate in the world.

Life at such altitudes in no walk in the park. It's frosty for over 200 days of the year, and unsurprisingly, food is scarce. To get by, the monkeys have put something rather strange on their menu: lichen. 

The slow-growing plants are easy to come by in the local forests – but they don't make for a very nutritious meal. Because of this, the monkeys are forced to lead relatively laid-back, low-energy lifestyles, and that means cutting back on one very important thing: having their Dark Lord babies. 

A female will typically give birth only every two to three years, so it takes time for the population to grow – it's estimated that only around 2,000 of these animals remain in their native China. Sadly, as more and more of their forest home is cleared for timber and agriculture, that added pressure may prove too much for a species that's already at serious risk. 

To find out how you can help, check out the Nature Conservancy's Yunnan programme.

Header image: Screengrab © PBS Nature