Monkeys live on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. They often make their homes in trees in warm and wet tropical rainforests, including the Amazon rainforest in South America and the Congo Basin in Central Africa. Some species have adapted to living in harsh environments, such as desert-like savannas or snowy mountains.
There are a variety of monkeys, spread across the world, with very different lifestyles. They come in many shapes, sizes and colors, but they are all intelligent and social creatures. Monkeys are broadly split into two groups: Old World monkeys and New World monkeys. Old World monkeys live in Asia and Africa and have downward-pointing nostrils, according toNature Education(opens in new tab). New World monkeys live in North and South America and have outward-pointing nostrils. Here are some common Species of monkeys you need to know:
- Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey
- Proboscis Monkey
- Snow Monkey
- Black Snub-Nosed Monkey
- Barbary Macaque
- Crab-Eating Macaque
- Common Marmoset
- Panamanian White-Faced Capuchin
- Central American Spider Monkey
- Pygmy Marmoset
- Northern Plains Gray Langur
- Gee’s Golden Langur
- Bald Uakari
- De Brazza’s Monkey
- Colombian Red Howler
- Emperor Tamarin
- François’ Langur
- Roloway Monkey
- East Javan Langur
- Red-Shanked Douc
- Rhesus Macaque
- Olive Baboon
- Blue Monkey
Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey
The golden snub-nosed monkey is an Old World monkey endemic to a small area in temperate, mountainous forests of central and Southwest China. Adult males (estimated at over 7 years of age) have large bodies covered with very long, golden guard hairs on their backs and Cape area. The crest is medium brown while the back, crown to nape, arms and outer thighs are deep brown. The brown crest also contains physically upright hairs, whose shape is useful for individual identification.
Adult females (estimated at over 5 years of age) are smaller in size and are about half the size of adult males. The dorsum, crown to nape, cape, arms and outer thighs are brown to deep brown in some of the older females. These monkeys spend most of their active time in trees, although they are also known to feed on the ground.
The mandrill is a large Old World monkey native to west-central Africa. It is one of the most colorful mammals in the world, with red and blue skin on its face and posterior. The species is sexually dimorphic, as males have a larger body, longer canine teeth and brighter coloring. Mandrills mainly live in tropical rainforests but will also travel across savannas.
Mandrill are mostly active during the day and spend most of their time on the ground. Their preferred foods are fruit and seeds, but mandrills will consume leaves, piths, mushrooms, and animals from insects to juvenile antelope. Mandrills live in large, stable groups known as “hordes” which can number in the hundreds. Females form the core of these groups, while adult males are solitary and only reunite with the larger groups during the breeding season. Dominant males have the most vibrant colors and fattest flanks and rumps, and have the most success siring young.
The proboscis monkey also referred to as long-nosed monkey is an arboreal Old World monkey with an unusually large nose, a reddish-brown skin color and a long tail. It is endemic to the southeast Asian island of Borneo and is found mostly in mangrove forests and on the coastal areas of the island. The tail is about the same length as the body.
Proboscis monkeys live in groups of about 20 consisting of a single male and up to a dozen females; males live in bachelor groups. The young have blue faces and are born singly, apparently at any time of year; gestation is estimated at five to six months. Proboscis monkeys wade upright through water, which makes them exceptional among monkeys in being habitually bipedal.
The Japanese macaque, also known as thesnow monkey, is a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan. Colloquially, they are referred to as “snow monkeys” because some live in areas where snow covers the ground for months each year – no other non-human primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate. Individuals have brownish grey fur, pinkish-red faces, and short tails.
Macaques mostly move on all fours. They are semiterrestrial, with females spending more time in the trees and males spending more time on the ground. Macaques are known to leap. They are very good swimmers and have been reported to swim a distance of more than half a kilometer. The lifespan of Japanese macaques is up to 32 years for females and up to 28 years for males.
Black-and-white snub-nosed monkey
The black-and-white snub-nosed monkey, also known as the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, is a large black and white primate that lives only in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan, where it is known to the locals as the Yunnan golden hair monkey and the black-and-white snub-nosed monkey. Male and female black-and-white snub-nosed monkeys have no colorization differences, but do differ in sizes.
Females weigh 20 lbs, while males are around 30 lbs. Adult black-and-white snub-nosed monkeys are identifiable by their gray/black and white fur. The underbelly and central facial zone are all white, while the rest of the body is a grayish black color. Their fur is extremely thick to protect them against below freezing temperatures. They are born with white fur that darkens with age. Another distinctive feature shared by both adults and babies, is their hairless and vibrant pink lips.
The Barbary macaque, also known as Barbary ape or magot, is a macaque species native to the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco, along with a small introduced population in Gibraltar. The Barbary macaque is of particular interest because males play an atypical role in rearing young. The Barbary macaque has a dark pink face with a pale buff to golden brown to grey pelage and a lighter underside. The colour of mature adults changes with ages. In adults and subadults the fur on the back is variegated pale and dark which is due to banding on individual hairs. In spring to early summer, as the temperatures rise, the adult macaques moult their thick winter fur.
The diet of Barbary macaque consists primarily of plants and insects and they are found in a variety of habitats. Males live to around 25 years old while females may live up to 30 years. Adult males weigh about 16 kg (35 pounds), adult females 11 kg. Because it has no tail, this monkey is sometimes incorrectly called theBarbary ape.
The crab-eating macaque, also known as the long-tailed macaque and referred to as the cynomolgus monkey in laboratories are a quadrapedal and diurnal (active during the day) species, highly adapted for swimming and climbing trees with tails used for balance when leaping between trees. The upper parts of the body are dark brown with light golden brown tips. The under parts are light grey with a dark grey/brown tail. Crab-eating macaques have backwards-directed crown hairs which sometimes form short crests on the midline.
Their skin is black on their feet and ears, whereas the skin on the muzzle is a light grayish pink color. The eyelids often have prominent white markings and sometimes there are white spots on the ears. Males have a characteristic mustache and cheek whiskers, while females have only cheek whiskers. Crab-eating macaques have a cheek pouch which they use to store food while foraging. Females show no perineal swelling.
The common marmoset also called white-tufted marmoset or white-tufted-ear marmoset is a New World monkey. It originally lived on the northeastern coast of Brazil. It is a very small monkeys with relatively long tails. Males and females are of similar size, with males being slightly larger.
The pelage of the marmoset is multicolored, being sprinkled with brown, grey, and yellow. It also has white ear tufts and the tail is banded. Their faces have black across their nose area skin and have a white blaze on the forehead. The coats of infants are brown and yellow with the ear tuft developing later. Marmosets have an arboreal locomotion similar to squirrels. They can hang onto trees vertically and leap between them, and run across branches quadrupedally.
Panamanian white-faced capuchin
The Panamanian white-faced capuchin, also known as the Panamanian white-headed capuchin or Central American white-faced capuchin, is a medium-sized New World monkey native to the Rainforest of Central America. It is mostly black, but with a pink face and white on much of the front part of the body, giving it its common name. It has a distinctive prehensile tail that is often carried coiled up and is used to help support the monkey when it is feeding beneath a branch.
It is a highly intelligent monkey and lives in troops that can exceed 20 animals and include both males and females. Both male and female capuchins exhibit different dominance behaviors within the group. It is noted for its tool use, including rubbing plants over its body in an apparent use of herbal medicine, and also using tools as weapons and for getting to food. It is a long-lived monkey, with a maximum recorded age of over 54 years.
Central American Spider Monkey
Geoffroy’s spider monkey, also known as the black-handed spider monkey or the Central American spider monkey is a species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central America, parts of Mexico and possibly a small portion of Colombia. Its arms are significantly longer than its legs, and its prehensile tail can support the entire weight of the monkey and is used as an extra limb. Its hands have only a vestigial thumb, but long, strong, hook-like fingers. These adaptations allow the monkey to move by swinging by its arms beneath the tree branches.
Geoffroy’s spider monkey lives in fission–fusion groups that contain between 20 and 42 members. Its diet consists primarily of ripe fruit and it requires large tracts of forest to survive. Geoffroy’s spider monkey can support its weight suspended by its tail and often does so when feeding.
The clitoris of female Geoffroy’s spider monkeys is large and protrudes, looking like a penis. This organ, called a pendulous clitoris because of the way it dangles externally, is actually larger than the male flaccid penis. As a result, females are sometimes mistaken for males by human observers.
Western pygmy marmoset
The western pygmy marmoset is a marmoset species, a very small New World monkey found in the northwestern Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. A soft thick mane of golden brown fur, flecked with white and black, covers western pygmy marmosets’ heads. The mane stretches down around their large brown eyes and mouths and covers the ears. A small white stripe extends between their eyes and white brushstrokes of fur dot the corners of their mouths. Flexible necks can rotate their heads 180 degrees—useful when on the alert for predators.
Pygmy marmosets live in social groups of two to nine individuals. The dominant female is the only female in the group to mate. Every member in the group aids in the care of offspring. The adults in the troop work together to raise the young and watch for predators. When they are attacked, they work together to defend themselves by making loud vocalizations and counterattacking.
Pygmy marmosets are primarily gummivores; their diet consists mostly of tree exudates (tree sap, gum, latex, and resin) and some fruit, flowers, nectar, insects, and spiders. They have small, sharp bottom teeth that they use to gouge holes in trees and vines. Once the exudate starts to pool in the holes, they use their tongue to lick it from the tree.
Northern Plains Gray Langur
The northern plains gray langur, also known as the sacred langur, Bengal sacred langur and Hanuman langur is diurnal, and is both terrestrial and arboreal. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland. The fur of adults is mostly light colored, with darker fur on the back and limbs, and the face, ears, hands and feet are all black. Infants are brown in color.
The northern plains gray langur can live in several different types of groups. It can live in groups of multiple males and females, one male and multiple females or multiple males with no females, and males can also live alone without a group. The northern plains gray langur eats primarily fruits and leaves. It is able to survive on mature leaves, which is a key to its ability to survive throughout the dry season. It also eats seeds, flowers, buds, bark and insects, including caterpillars.
Gee’s golden langur
Gee’s golden langur, also known as simply the golden langur, is an Old World monkey found in a small region of Western Assam, India and in the neighboring foothills of the Black Mountains of Bhutan. The coat of the adult golden langur ranges from cream to golden, on its flanks and chest the hairs are darker and often rust coloured while the coats of the juveniles and females are lighter, silvery white to light buff. The coat changes color seasonally, from white or cream coloured in the summer to dark golden or chestnut in the winter. Their long whiskers to protect their eyes from rain during monsoon. The golden langur has a black face and large whorl of hair on its crown.
For the most part, the langur is confined to high trees where its long tail serves as a balancer when it leaps across branches. During the rainy season it obtains water from dew and rain drenched leaves. Its diet is herbivorous, consisting of ripe and unripe fruits, mature and young leaves, seeds, buds and flowers. It generally lives in troops of about 8, with a ratio of several females to each adult male. It is one of the most endangered primate species of India and Bhutan.
The bald uakari or bald-headed uakari is a small New World monkey characterized by a very short tail; bright, crimson face; a bald head; and long coat. The bald uakari is restricted to várzea forests and other wooded habitats near water in the western Amazon of Brazil and Peru. In general, the bald uakari has a long, shaggy coat ranging from white in color to red and its head is bald. Its scarlet red face is due to the lack of skin pigments and plentiful capillaries that run under its facial tissue.
Like many species of monkey, bald uakaris areomnivores, which means they eat plants and animals. Seeds and fruit make up the vast majority of their diet. However, they will also eat insects, leaves, and flowers. Being an omnivore makes it easier to find food in the wet season and the dry season when there are fewer resources. The arboreal bald uakari prefers to reside in seasonally flooded forests. During the dry season, it returns to the ground to look for seeds and other food material.
De Brazza’s monkey
De Brazza’s monkey is an Old World monkey endemic to the riverine and swamp forests of central Africa. Adults have grey agouti fur with a reddish-brown back, black limbs and tail, and a white rump. Both sexes have cheek pouches they use to carry food while they forage. Males have a distinct blue scrotum, while females have a red perianal region and visible nipples.
Juveniles lack the darker colors on the extremities that is characteristic of adults, but retain the whites stripes and red rump while infants are a uniform brown agouti with only a small beard. The white muzzle and beard, along with an orange crescent on its forehead and white stripes on its thighs distinguish it from other guenons. Due to this distinctive appearance, the monkey is sometimes referred to as the “Ayatollah Monkey”.
Colombian red howler
The Colombian red howler or Venezuelan red howler is a South American species of howler monkey, a type of New World monkey, found in the western Amazon Basin in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. The color of both males and females is a deep reddish-brown, and the color shade changes with age. Their faces are surrounded by fur and they have stubby noses. The tail is covered with fur except for the last third of the underside, which allows it to grab branches.
The jawbone of the red howler monkey is large, especially the body of the mandible. In addition, its hands and feet have a grasping pattern that allows it to better move about in the trees. This can be seen by the wide separation of the second and third digits of the hand.
The gelada, sometimes called the bleeding-heart monkey or the gelada baboon is a stocky primate with white eyelids, brown fur, a tufted tail, and a bald pink chest. The male bears a long, heavy mane and may be more than 70 cm (28 inches) long, excluding the somewhat shorter tail. The female has a necklacelike row of bead-shaped fleshy growths along the edges of the bare chest patch.
Geladas are adapted to a life of grazing. Their fingers are short and stubby to pick out grass and seeds. Although they have the same menacing canines as their baboon cousins, the rest of their teeth are designed for grinding up plants, with their jaws moving side-to-side like a deer or a cow. Their backsides have extra padding to allow them to sit down for long hours while they shuffle around in search of food.
The emperor tamarin is a species of tamarin allegedly named for its resemblance to the German emperor Wilhelm II. It lives in the west Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas and the southwest Amazon Basin, in east Peru, north Bolivia. The fur of the emperor tamarin is predominantly grey colored, with yellowish speckles on its chest. The hands and feet are black and the tail is brown. Outstanding is its long, white beard, which extends to both sides beyond the shoulders. There are claws on each of the animal’s toes and fingers, aside from its big toe which has a nail. While it has a definitive long mustache, it also has almost inconspicuous white hairs on its chin.
Emperor tamarins occur mostly in Amazonian lowland and lower mountain rain forests, as well as remnant, primary, and secondary forests. Emperor tamarins consume a wide range of specimens in their daily dietary routine. They eat fruits and flowers, many of which are readily available due to their flourishing vegetational habitats. They also eat the exudes of plants such as gums and saps, easily gouged from the trees they are living in.
The François’ langur, also known as the Francois’ leaf monkey, Tonkin leaf monkey, or white side-burned black langur is a medium-sized primate with black, silky hair. It has very distinct white sideburns that grow down from its ears to the corners of its cheeks. Infants are born with bright orange coloured fur, which fades to black throughout the period of infancy lasting several months. It is not known why their coats are so conspicuous, but current hypotheses suggest it may elicit attention, protection and caregiving by adults.
With slender bodies, Francois’s langurs are agile and acrobatic monkeys. Their dark, furry forms look like mere shadows as they clamber up and down gray karst cliffs and leap between the trees that overhang their steep ledges. Lanky limbs and long muscular fingers are their best insurance against a deadly slip and fall down the side of their mountain homes. A tail longer than their torso provides them exceptional balance.
Half of a Francois’s langur’s diet is composed of both young and mature leaves. Though leaves grow in abundance throughout the year in the tropical and subtropical climates they live in, these langurs are not entirely folivorous, and regularly eat other cellulose-rich plant material such as shoots, flowers, and even bark.
The Roloway monkey is an endangered species of Old World monkey endemic to tropical West Africa. The roloway monkey is most similar to theC. diana.Both of these monkeys share similar physical features as well. They both have dark fur surrounding a majority of their body, with a dark brown-reddish patch on their lower back. The Roloway monkey has a prominent white beard resting under its black chin, and above its dark eyes is a horizontal white stripe of fur, resting directly on its brow bone.
Its face is a dark black, accentuated by the bright white fur covering its shoulders and chest. Roloway Monkeys have a relatively flat skull, and unlike many other primates, they do not have an elongated chin cavity, also referred to as a rostrum. In addition, the nostrils of the monkey are closely set and they angle downwards. Its chest, and throat are bright white, and the monkey has white line of fur that runs along each outer-thigh. On the inside of the thighs, the fur can range from being white, red, brown, or even yellowish. They have exceptionally long tails, longer than the entirety of their body.
Roloway monkeys are active during the day, roaming the forest with their troops in search of insects or fruit to eat. They scurry along branches on all fours from tree to tree in a direct and unassuming manner—rarely making the kinds of acrobatic leaps that could attract unwanted attention.
East Javan langur
The East Javan langur, also known as the, Javan langur or Spangled ebony langurs generally have glossy black coats with brownish tinges on their legs, sides, and sideburns. Like many langur species, infants are born with bright orange coats that darken to black as they age. Uniquely, some spangled ebony langur individuals carry a rare morph and they do not lose their juvenile coloring as they mature. Instead, their adult pelage remains golden, although slightly darker than that of infants, with yellow tinges on their sides, on their limbs, and around their ears, and with a black tinge on their backs.
Spangled ebony langurs’ expressive faces are framed by unruly sideburns and heavy locks that fold down onto their forehead. Their brown eyes are accentuated by a strong eyebrow ridge. Their nose is flat and their nostrils look like two parentheses above a straight mouth.
The red-shanked douc
The red-shanked douc is an arboreal and diurnal Old World monkey endemic to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The red-shanked douc are among the most colorful primates. They have agouti hair on their crown, temples, inner thighs, ventral coat, nape of the neck, back, triceps and lateral sides of their arms. Their crown is silver, their temples are red hair and their foreheads are black. They have white whiskers that are approximately 12 cm long for adult males.
Their eyes have a high axis. The fur on their cheeks and on their throat is white. Their collar is orange with black from one shoulder to the other. Their face is a yellow-brown color and they have light blue eyelids. Their inner arms and inner, lateral and back thighs are black while their lower legs are a vibrant red. Their abdomen and back are silver yet their sacral area is white. Both feet and hands are black as well as their nipples. Their tails are white and are oftentimes equal in length to their head and body length. Males can be distinguished from females by a white spot adorning both sides of their rump, just above the white triangle.
The rhesus macaque, colloquially rhesus monkey, is a species of Old World monkey. is native to South, Central, and Southeast Asia and has the widest geographic range of all non-human primates, occupying a great diversity of altitudes and a great variety of habitats, from grasslands to arid and forested areas, but also close to human settlements. The rhesus macaque is brown or grey in color and has a pink face, which is bereft of fur.
The rhesus macaque is diurnal, arboreal, and terrestrial. It is mostly herbivorous, mainly eating fruit, but will also consume seeds, roots, buds, bark, and cereals. It will also eat invertebrates, drink water from streams and rivers, and has specialised cheek pouches where it can temporarily store food. It spends most of its day feeding and resting, the rest is occupied with travelling, grooming, and playing.
The olive baboon, also called the Anubis baboon, have a long square muzzle with large nostrils pointing forward. The top of the head appears flat. The skull has a sagittal crest indicative of strong jaw muscles. The fur is grey with speckles of black and yellowish color; it is coarse and short. Adult males have a mane of long hair from the top of the head to the shoulders. The skin of the face and ears is black. The face is covered with very fine hair. The eyes are sunken under the eyebrow bone and are an orange-brown color.
Infants are black and skinny with large ears. The wrinkled skin on the face, ears, and inside of the hands and feet is pink. Babies become peppery grey at seven months old, and their coat turns olive around their first birthday.
During rainfalls, olive baboons pick and gorge on fruit, young leaves, and flowers—especially abundant in forested areas; they feed on fresh grasses in the savanna, grewia berries, and star grass. During the dry season, they dig out roots, tubers, corms, and seeds. They also consume cacti, insects, birds, eggs and vertebrates—such as Thompson gazelles, rabbits, and even other primates.
The blue monkey or diademed monkey is a species of Old World monkey native to Central and East Africa, ranging from the upper Congo River basin east to the East African Rift and south to northern Angola and Zambia. Despite its name, the blue monkey is not noticeably blue; it has little hair on its face, and this does sometimes give a blue appearance, but it never has the vivid blue appearance of a mandrill, for example.
Their pelage is mostly gray and speckled. Their dark face is pear-shaped, with rounded cheeks and a narrow top of the head. The nose area looks like a droplet that ends with a small mouth and chin, both accentuated with patches of pale, yellowish fur. Their whiskers shoot backward and downward, and they have cheek pouches to store food as they forage. Their almond eyes are very expressive and brown-orange in color. Their eyelids are a light shade of gray, and their forehead is crowned by a whitish diadem. The top of their head is black.
The fur on their chest is a lighter shade. The long hair on their shoulders and saddle varies from dark gray to greenish or yellowish, and gives the appearance of a mantle.