All About Monkeys
There are two main types of monkeys: those which live in the Amazon rainforest and central and South American tropics, and those called Old World monkeys which live in Africa and Asia. There are over sixty species of monkeys. Sometimes a new species is discovered in a rainforest. They come in many shapes, colors and sizes. They all have an opposable thumb, as humans do. This is a thumb which can be placed opposite the fingers of a hand to help it grasp onto objects.
Old World monkeys do not have a prehensile tail, but New World monkeys do. A prehensile tail can be moved around to grasp and hold onto objects. Old World monkeys can store food in a small pouch in their cheek. New World monkeys cannot. New World monkeys do not have rump pads which Old World monkeys do. The nostrils of Old World monkeys are small, close together and curved. Those of the New World monkeys are set far apart and round.
The pygmy marmoset is the smallest monkey, only five inches tall and weighing about four ounces. The largest monkey in the world is the mandrill. It weighs seventy-seven pounds and stands three feet tall.
Monkeys are omnivores. They eat both plants and meat. They eat fruits, seeds, nuts, and flowers usually. However, some eat lizards, spiders, insects, and birds. Monkeys move around to find food so do not live in one specific location for very long. They can live in savannas, trees or mountain areas. Proboscis monkeys eat only fruit that is not yet ripe. The sugars in ripe fruit will ferment and cause their stomachs to bloat.
Monkeys are very social. They like to live with lots of other monkeys. These groups of monkeys are called troops, cartloads, missions or tribes. The monkey which is the biggest and strongest is the leader. All the members of a troop work to protect each other and take care of the young monkeys. In some groups, the leader will mate with more than one female.
The gestation period varies depending on the type of monkey. The gestation period is the length of time it takes for a baby to be formed inside its mother and to be born. For a rhesus monkey, the length is one hundred sixty-four days. A baboon is a little longer, one hundred eighty-seven days.
While a monkey is young, it is usually cared for by its mother. However, a father may also provide care for his offspring. A baby monkey may hang around its mother's neck or ride on her back. When a monkey reaches the age of four or five, it is called an adult. A mother usually gives birth every two years. If there is a lack of food, she will see to it that she does not produce a baby.
Several monkey species are almost extinct. There are not many remaining. The Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, the Tana River Red Colobus, and the Hainan black-crested gibbon are in danger of dying out.
Many interesting facts about monkeys are known. In June 1948, a rhesus monkey named Albert was the first living creature in space. A mandrill's red and blue colors on his face get much brighter when he gets excited. Monkeys can show affection for each other by grooming. Howler monkeys yell loud enough to be heard for three miles. A spider monkey can walk very fast across a branch. It has long limbs like a spider's. Signs of aggression in a monkey include pulling its lip, yawning, and head bobbing. South American TIti monkeys have only one mate for their entire lives. They spend time cuddling each other.
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