Rainforest Monkeys

Some Facts About Rainforest Monkeys

One could literally spend a lifetime studying rainforest monkeys in that there are many different species and, it is believed, species yet to be discovered. What sets rainforest monkeys apart is the fact that most rainforests have a canopy of tall trees, and except for insects and a few animals that dwell on the forest floor, where vegetation may be scarce, much of the action that takes place in the trees. It is in the trees where most rainforest monkeys live and spend most or all of their time.

Rainforests - There are three major rainforest areas in the world, the best known being the rainforest covering a good part of the Amazon Basin in South America and extending northwards into parts of Central America. Much of Southeast Asia, from the eastern regions of India and into Australia, particularly Queensland, is rainforest. The Zaire Basin in Africa is the third major rainforest area.

New World And Old World - The rainforest monkeys found in the Amazon Basin are called New World Monkeys, while those found in Africa, Asia, and Australia are referred to as old world monkeys. While the two types share many things in common, there are some significant differences. New World monkeys are usually somewhat smaller than their Old World counterparts, and all of them live in trees (making them arboreal monkeys), whereas some species of Old World monkeys live on the ground or both in trees and on the ground. The most striking difference between the two groups however is probably the prehensile tail, or lack of one. Nearly all New World monkey species have a prehensile tail, prehensile meaning capable of grasping, and they use it together with their arms and legs for climbing or hanging from limbs. None of the Old World monkeys have such a tail. Another distinguishable difference is that New World rainforest monkeys have a short snout with round nostrils. Their Old World counterparts usually have a longer snout, with curved nostrils, the baboon being a good example.

The diet of rainforest monkeys may vary from species to species, but there is usually plenty of food available, except in areas where the habitat is slowly being changed or destroyed by humans. Most monkeys are omnivorous. They may primarily eat fruit and vegetation, but also eat insects and at times small animals such as lizards, and even birds.

Big And Loud - The rainforest monkeys inhabiting the Amazon Basin include a number of the better known species. The largest is the Howler monkey, which is not only bigger in size than the other New World monkeys, but much louder to listen to. In fact, the Howler monkey is the loudest of the land mammals, putting the elephant's trumpet and the lion's roar to shame. There is believed to be nine different species of Howler monkeys. Presumably one species is louder than the next. A howler monkey can weigh up to around 20 pounds.

The Little Guys - At the other end of the scale is the Marmoset, of which there are around two dozen different species. These little guys are small enough to hold in the palm of one's hand, being no more than 6 to 8 inches in length. Not much larger are the Tamarin monkeys, squirrel-sized rainforest monkeys noted for their sometimes peculiar appearances. Squirrel monkeys are not much larger than the Marmoset, usually weighing less than three pounds, and the most abundant of the New World monkeys. Squirrel monkeys live in groups of up to several hundred members. They are different than most of the other monkeys found in the Amazon Basin in that they are one of the few species that do not use their tail for climbing.

The Rainforest Acrobat - If there is a favorite species among the rainforest monkeys it is probably the Spider monkey. This is the monkey with the unusually long arms, legs, and tail, and could be considered the acrobat of the monkey family. It is the Spider monkey that is apt to attract crowds of onlookers in the zoo as they go about their antics, swinging from perch to perch, or going along a limb hand over hand, or foot over foot.

There are many other species of rainforest monkeys, Wolley monkeys, and Capuchins in the New World, and Baboons, Macaques, and Langurs in the Old World, to name several, each one being an interesting and even fascinating study.

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