About Primates & Monkeys

Human beings are primates, to the same degree as our closest relations, the great apes and gibbons. The group includes all kinds of monkeys and many less recognised species, plus the varied lemurs of Madagascar and the night time lorises, galagos, and pottos.

Primate Features

All primates are great climbers and spend almost all their lives in trees. They have powerful arms and legs, and long grasping fingers and toes for hanging on to branches. Their forward - facing eyes allow them to judge distances accurately - a useful skill when leaping from branch to branch.

I'm prepared to go fishing!

Chimpanzees eat plenty of different types of food. Ants and termites make a good snack because they are full of protein. In order to catch them, chimps use stripped twigs or plant stems, which they poke into holes in termite nest or mound. Just the cleverest creatures have the capacity to create and use tools in such a way.

Fast Learners: Young chimpanzees learn skills by observing adults, and by trial and error. It takes a great deal of practice to refine techniques like fishing for termites.

Fact File - Chimps

  • The aye-aye's long skinny fingers are just right for picking insect grubs out of small crevices in tree bark.
  • The pads on a tarsier's finger, toes, palms, and soles provide fantastic grip on soft trunks and branches.
  • Chimpanzees are as relaxed walking on the ground as in the trees. Their feet have huge flat soles for walking on.

Primate Types

Pygmy Mouse Lemur (Microcebus myoxinus)

  • Length: 18-22cm (7-8.5inc)
  • Weight: 24-38g (3/4-1 quarter oz)
  • Location: Madagascar only
Pygmy Mouse Lemur

This is the world's smallest primate. It lives in forests and is active mainly at night time, when it climbs lightly through the trees, rummaging for food, including fruit, insects, spiders, frogs and other tiny creatures. The long tail is used for stability when climbing. By day, mouse lemurs sleep in spherical nest leaves that they occasionally share with a few others.

Hamadryas Baboon

  • Length: 60-75 cm (24-30inc)
  • Weight: (on four legs) 70 cm(28inc)
  • Location: Eastern Africa including Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, also in Arabia.
hamadryas baboon

Hamadryas Baboons spend much of their time at ground level , eating grass and other plant or animal food they can locate. They live in big groups called troops. A troup can comprise various smaller bands, each led by a large, experienced male. Members of the band show their faithfulness by grooming each other's fur.

Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta Seniculus)

  • Length: 60-90 cm (24-36 inch)
  • Weight: 5-10kg (11-22lb)
  • Location: Northern 7 Central South America
red howler monkey

Bonobo (Pan Paniscus)

  • Length: 70-83 cm (28-32inc)
  • Weight: 30-60kg (66-132lb)
  • Location: Central Africa

You can tell the difference between these incredibly clever and social apes from chimpanzees by their dark skin and habit of regularly walking upright. Bonobos live in organised groups and are active mainly by day, when they rummage for fruits, leaves and tiny creatures. They spend a huge amount of their time in social activities like grooming, cuddling and mating.

Japanese Macaque (Macaca Fuscata)

  • Length: 95 cm (37inch)
  • Tail: 10cm (4inch)
  • Weight: 14kg (31 lb)
  • Location: Japan
japanese macaque

Japanese Macaques live in groups, with females generally out numbering males by approximately 3 to 1. Females stay in groups for life and daughters inherit their mother's rank in the pecking order.

They live further north than any other primate, excluding humans. They grow a thick coat to help them deal with cold winters. Occasionally, they bathe in hot springs in order to keep warm.

Chacma Baboon (Callithrix Jacchus)

  • Length: 82 cm (32inch)
  • Tail: 84cm (33inc)
  • Weight: 30kg (66lb)
  • Location: Southern Africa
chacma baboon

This is the biggest Baboon and it spends most of its time on the ground. Males are two times as big as females and have two huge canine teeth. The baboons eat various foods, including fruit, nuts, grass, roots, insects, and other small animals. In the evening, they sleep in a tree or on a cliff, in a selected place in their territory.

Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus Rosalia)

  • Length: 25 cm (10inc)
  • Tail: 37cm (14.5 ich)
  • Weight: 800g (28oz)
  • Location: Southern America
golden lion tamarin

These monkeys are rare because their environments have virtually disappeared and most of them are captured and sold as pets. Tamarins dwell in tiny troops in which just one dominant pair reproduces. They search for food at daytime, using their long, thin fingers to locate grubs in crevices and tree bark. They generally sleep in a hole in a tree in the evenings.

Mona Monkey

  • Length: 63 cm (25inc)
  • Tail: 88cm (34.5 inc)
  • Weight: 5.3 kg (12lb)
  • Location: Western Africa
Mona Monkey

This tiny little monkey spends most of its time in trees where it eats fruit, leaves, shoots and insects. It has pouches in its cheeks where it can carry food whilst it searches for more. It lives in groups of 30 animals, which comprises one adult male and numerous females.

Common Marmoset (Callithrix Jacchus)

  • Length: 25 cm (10inc)
  • Tail: 35 cm (14 inc)
  • Weight: 350g (12oz)
  • Location: Brazil
common marmoset

Common Marmoset are unusual amongst primates because they have claw-like nails instead of true nails. They use these to support them cling vertically to tree trunks and run on all fours along branches. These marmosets eat tree sap in addition to fruit and insects.

Mandrill (Mandrillus Sphinx)

  • Length: 81 cm (32 inc)
  • Tail: 9 cm (3.5 inc)
  • Weight: 37 kg (82lb)
  • Location: Western Central Africa

Mandrills are easily identified by the bright red and blue nose. Males are a lot bigger than females and are the biggest monkeys world-wide. These monkeys dwell in mixed groups consisting one dominant male, and can form troops of 250 creatures. They spend the majority of their time on the ground searching for fruits, seeds, eggs, and small creatures.

Common Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri Sciureus)

  • Length: 32 cm (12.5 inc)
  • Tail: 42 cm (16.5 inc)
  • Weight: 950g (34oz)
  • Location: Western to central South America
common squirrel monkey

Squirrel monkeys form huge troops, occasionally comprising over 200 individuals. They eat a variety of foods including fruit, nuts, berries, leaves, seeds, flowers, insects, and small animals.

Brown Capuchin (Cebus Apella)

  • Length: 42 cm (17inc)
  • Tail: 49 cm (19 inc)
  • Weight: 4.5kg (10lb)
  • Location: Northern, Central & Eastern South America
brown capuchin

These clever monkeys mainly eat fruit, although they eat nuts, eggs, insects and other creatures too. They are known to use tools like stones, to crack open hard nuts. Groups of 20 animals leap and climb through the trees, and the young regularly come to the ground to play.

The Exclusive Gelada

The Gelada's ancestors roamed over the whole of Africa; however, the modern - day Gelada is just located in the grassy highlands of Ethiopia and is the sole grass eating primate. Gelada's munch away at blades of grass , in addition to stems, seeds, and roots. All this munching can take a long time; these monkeys spend approximately 60 percent of their day eating - longer than any other monkey.

Gelada (Theropithecus Gelada)

  • Length: 70-74 cm (28-29 inc)
  • Tail: 70-80 cm (28-31 inc)
  • Weight: 20kg (44lb)
  • Location: Ethiopia, Africa

The Gelada is a close cousin of the baboon and is occasionally known as a Gelada Baboon. Both males and females have a triangular shaped patch of bright pink skin on their chest, bordered with white hairs. For this reason this species of monkeys is occasionally called the pink-chested Gelada. The male has a thick mane, which falls midway down his back and an incredibly elongated tail with a compact cluster of hairs at the tip.

Mum and baby Gelada's - it's a female gelada's primary role to care for her newborn. She carries, safeguards, grooms, and nurses her brood until they become independent and are able to find their own food. This generally occurs when they are around 12 to 18 months old. From approximately three months old, baby Gelada's ride on their mother's back, similar to a jockey riding a horse. Females generally have one baby at a time and just four or five during a lifespan. However, they spend a great deal of time and energy taking care of them.

Find out more about one of the primate types - read some interesting unknown facts about monkeys.