Kinds of Monkeys
The New World, or American, monkeys, and the Old World monkeys differ in certain ways. Old World monkeys resemble humans and the great apes in anatomy and body functions more closely than they resemble New World monkeys.
The noses of Old World monkeys have nostrils that are close together and point downward. New World monkeys have flat noses, and the nostrils are set far apart and open towards the side. Only New World monkeys have prehensile (grasping) tails. Only Old World monkeys have thick pads of skin on the buttocks. Some Old World monkeys have cheek pouches for storing food.The black colobus is an Old World monkey.
Old World monkeys are divided into two large groups. One group is made up of the guenons, mangabeys, macaques, drills, mandrills, and baboons. There are many species of guenons and mangabeys. All have long tails, and are found in the forested areas of Africa. The Diana monkey of West Africa is a guenon noted for the beauty of its black and white fur.
The numerous species of macaques include the rhesus and the crab-eating monkey. Most macaques are found in Asia. An exception is the Barbary ape, the only monkey found in Europe, which inhabits Gibraltar and North Africa. Baboons and mandrills, found only in Africa, are ground dwellers.
The other large group of Old World monkeys includes the colobus monkeys of Africa, the langurs of Asia, and the proboscis monkeys of Borneo. The guereza, a black-and-white colobus monkey found in East Africa and Nigeria, was once hunted extensively because its fur was used to trim women's dresses in America and Europe. African chiefs sometimes use colobus fur in their ceremonial robes. The langurs are large monkeys with long bodies and tails. One species, the hanuman, is held sacred in India. The proboscis monkey is noted for its long nose; an old male may have a nose three inches (8 cm) long.
Old World monkeys live mostly in parts of Africa and Asia. This is their original range. It was once the only area where they lived. Today, some species live in small areas in other parts of the world, too, such as Europe and the West Indies. But humans brought these monkeys to these places, and most of them are no larger than small preserves.Most kinds of baboons live only in Africa. The olive baboon, the most common baboon, is found over much of central Africa. One kind of baboon, the hamadryas (ham uh DRY uhs) baboon, is also found in the Arabian Peninsula (puh NIHN suh luh).
Baboons live in a variety of habitats, such as rocky plains, woodlands, and grasslands. In dry areas, they must stay near a constant source of water, such as a lake, a river, or a waterhole. In wet areas, baboons get much of their water from juicy plants and morning dew.
For a monkey, the lion-tailed macaque looks a lot like a lion. In fact, that’s how it got its name. This macaque has a tuft at the tip of its tail—just like a lion. And like a lion, the lion-tailed macaque has a thick mane around its face.
Lion-tailed macaques live in southern India in trees with flat, broad leaves. They eat, sleep, and travel in small troops. When the troop travels from tree to tree, the males often let out loud calls. They sound like “Whoo!” This lets other lion-tailed macaque troops know to stay away. The males repeat this call over and over. This way everybody gets the message!
The large patas monkey of central Africa is the fastest Old World monkey. In fact, it’s the fastest of all primates. When a patas monkey gets going, it can run up to 34 miles (55 kilometers) an hour!
Patas monkeys have long heels and short fingers and toes designed for running. And with its long legs, a patas monkey can take some very big strides. The patas monkey uses its great speed to escape from enemies such as jackals and hyenas. This monkey can usually outrun whatever enemy is chasing it.
Sometimes a male patas monkey will even try to get an enemy to chase him. But he’s not playing around. He’s trying to draw the enemy away from other patas monkeys. The male gets its enemy’s attention by bouncing or barking. When the enemy gives chase, the patas monkey runs away.
No! But red colobus monkeys do make some incredible leaps. Sometimes one of these leaps can carry a colobus monkey up to 20 feet (6.1 meters). This Old World monkey lives in the treetops in rain forests and swamps. To get from one tree to the next, a colobus monkey finds a long branch. Next, it springs toward another tree with its arms held out in the air. Finally, it lands on its feet and grabs the new tree with its hands.A colobus monkey has long legs and a very long tail. This monkey’s strong legs help it make such great leaps. A colobus monkey uses its long tail for balance. It keeps this monkey safe as it moves around trees.
Hanuman langurs are Old World monkeys that live in India and a few nearby countries. Their habitats include tropical forests, thorny scrub forests, and pine forests. Hanuman langurs can be found from sea level to as high as 14,000 feet (4,267 meters). These langurs live in a wider range of elevations than any other monkey. But even with all those choices, Hanuman langurs often settle down in cities.
It’s easy to see why Hanuman langurs like life in the city. In India, these monkeys are considered sacred. People often give them food at temples. At night, the monkeys stretch out and go to sleep on building ledges.
Many types of Old World monkeys are in danger of becoming extinct, or no longer existing. Several kinds of colobus monkeys are in danger. Other kinds of Old World monkeys, such as the douc langur, are in danger, too.
Humans are the greatest threat to Old World monkeys. These monkeys are losing their habitats as people clear forests. Some species of Old World monkeys are still legally hunted. Poachers kill others for their fur. Many more are captured and sold illegally as pets.
But there is some good news for Old World monkeys. Many species are now protected by law. Huge preserves have been created that protect the habitats of many Old World monkeys. More efforts like these are needed to ensure that Old World monkeys will be here for a long time to come.