40+ Interesting Facts About Monkeys

  1. Monkeys belong to primates. Several features make them different from apes, lemurs, lorises, and tarsiers.
  2. There are several prominent differences between apes and monkeys. Apes are larger with broad chest and shoulder joints. Monkeys are smaller and narrow-chested. Apes swing through trees, while monkeys run across branches. Monkeys have tails, while apes are without a tail. Apes have an appendix that is absent in monkeys. Apes are also more intelligent of the two. (Source)
  3. There are two types of monkeys according to their location. These are the Old World monkeys and New World monkeys.
  4. Famous New World monkeys are marmosets, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and titis. Famous Old World Monkeys are Mangabeys, macaques, baboons, langurs, and mandrills.
  5. The old-world monkeys originated in Asia and Africa, while new-world monkeys belong to the Americas. There are physical differences between the two types as well. Old World monkeys are larger, having non-grasping tails with sitting pads, downward-facing nose, eight premolars, opposable thumbs, and fingernails. On the other hand, New World monkeys are smaller with prehensile (gripping) tails, nostrils facing sideways, 12 premolars, non-opposable thumbs, and no fingernails. Both these types also differ in their habitat, diet, and social structure. (Source)
  6. There are more than 260 species of old-world and new-world monkeys. Old World monkeys belong to a single family, while there are five families of new world monkeys.
  7. The black snub-nosed monkey lives at the highest elevation for any primate. The range of this old world monkey is 3400 to 4600 meters above sea level in the Tibetan Plateau. (Source)
  8. The black-fronted titis (present in Brazil) are the first known animals that use two distinct alarm calls to inform their relatives about the type of predator and its location. They are also the first among new world monkeys to show primitive syntax. (Source)
  9. Monkeys use several medicinal plants and other methods for their benefit. White-faced capuchins, lemurs, and owl monkeys rub their fur with millipedes to repel insects. Capuchins also rub their skin with antiseptic piper plants. Tamarins swallow large seeds to eject worms from their intestines. Macaques eat dirt as an anti-diarrhetic, while red colobus monkeys consume charcoal to absorb cyanide and relieve indigestion. (Source)
  10. Most old-world monkeys and a few species of new-world monkeys (especially females) are trichromatic (see color vision). Others are dichromatic (like colorblind humans). The night monkeys (a nocturnal species) are monochromatic (can only see black, white, and grays). The color vision in old and new world monkeys developed after their separation 30-40 million years ago. (Source)
  11. Pygmy marmoset (a new world monkey) is the smallest monkey with an average height and weight of 5 in. (12.7 cm) and 113 grams (4 ounces). Mandrill (belonging to old world monkeys) is the largest monkey that can attain a weight of 35 kg (77 pounds) and can reach 3 feet (1 meter) of height.
  12. A species of spider monkeys live in sexually segregated societies. They are the first known primate species that live in such a social structure. They only come together when the food is scarce. The reason for this segregation is the hostile behavior of male monkeys. (Source)
  13. Howler monkeys have the loudest call among animals. The call of this new world monkey is 1,000 times louder per unit mass. (Source)
  14. Diana monkeys and putty-nosed guenons can combine calls to make sentence-like messages. Ethiopian geladas live in a group of up to 800 monkeys. They communicate in more than 30 different vocalizations. (Source)
  15. Monkeys such as capuchins, macaques, and baboons perform better than humans in cognitive flexibility. Studies have proved that they are more willing to adopt efficient options to solve problems than humans who persist in using an inefficient familiar strategy. (Source)
  16. Monkeys can transmit several diseases to humans. These include monkeypox, yellow fever, tuberculosis, B virus, Ebola Reston, and others. (Source)
  17. Most monkeys are arboreal (tree-dwelling), while other species live in savannas or mountain areas.
  18. Patas monkeys are the fastest primates in the world. Their maximum speed is 55 km/h (34 mph). They can reach a speed from 0 to 53 km/h in just three seconds. (Source)
  19. Scientists use tens of thousands of monkeys in laboratories around the globe every year. Most of these belong to marmosets and macaques. (Source)
  20. Capuchin monkeys are helpful as service animals for disabled persons. They are considered better for this job due to their intelligence and usage of tools. (Source)
  21. The total numbers of monkeys inside labs in the USA were around 110,000 in 2017. Nearly 80% of them were macaques (especially rhesus macaques). (Source)
  22. The first primate to launch into space in 1948 was a rhesus monkey, Albert. Another rhesus monkey, named Albert II, was the first primate to reach space in 1949. Most of the initial spaceflights with monkeys ended with deaths inside the shuttle or due to parachute failures. The first primates to land safely after a space flight in 1959 were also two monkeys: a rhesus monkey (Able) and a squirrel monkey (Baker). (Source)
    A rhesus macaque before a spaceflight
    Rhesus monkeys were sent to space many times

  23. Monkey’s brain is eaten as a delicacy in a few parts of China. However, this is dangerous and can cause fatal, degenerative brain disease.
  24. Hanuman the monkey is the most popular god in Hinduism. Monkeys also enjoy a revered place in Buddhism, Taoism, and ancient Mayan religions.
  25. Out of more than 260 species, around 24 monkey species are critically endangered. South America has the highest number of these endangered species.
  26. The Barbary macaque, also known as the Barbary ape, is the only species of monkeys present in Europe.
  27. The face color of the bald uakari monkey is dark red. The reasons behind this color are its thin skin and the presence of numerous capillaries beneath the skin’s surface. The color of the face also indicates their health as it becomes pale and dull when the monkey suffers from Chagas disease or malaria.
  28. Japanese macaques (or snow monkeys) enjoy regular baths in hot springs. A recent study shows that this behavior assists them in surviving the chilly cold environment of their habitat. (Source)
  29. Monkeys are omnivores. They eat plant and animal foods, particularly nuts, seeds, fruits, eggs, insects, spiders, etc.
  30. Monkeys groom each other, which keeps them healthy and maintains social bonds. Recent research also proves that grooming maintains a constant body temperature in vervet monkeys. (Source)
  31. The male proboscis monkeys in Borneo are famous for their long nose. The purpose of this extraordinary long nose is to impress females.
  32. Proboscis only eats unripe fruit. Sugar in ripe fruit can cause fermentation in their stomach, which is dangerous for these monkeys.  
  33. Monkeys are social animals that live in groups. The strongest and largest male monkey is the leader of the group.  
  34. The average lifespan of monkeys is from 25 to 30 years. Baboons are the longest living monkeys, having a lifespan of about 40 years in the wild. 
  35. Spider monkeys have the longest tail of all primates. This prehensile tail is about twice their body length.
  36. Crocodiles, hyenas, big cats, and a few birds are the main natural predators of monkeys. Deforestation is a top risk faced by these primates.
  37. A monkey in Thailand (named “Uncle Fat”) gained 26 kg weight by eating junk food and soda. This monkey was put on a diet to reach a healthy weight of 9 kg. (Source)
  38. Japanese macaques groom and share food with deer. In exchange, they get a ride for transportation or fun.
  39. Alexander of Greece was the king of Greece from June 1917 to October 1920. He died after being bitten by his pet monkey, a Barbary macaque.
  40. A new species of snub-nosed monkey was discovered in Myanmar in 2010. This monkey sneezes when it rains due to its upturned nostrils. (Source)
  41. The first head transplant in primates was performed on a monkey in 1970. It died nine days after the transplant due to complications. (Source)
  42. In Thailand, female monkeys of long-tailed macaques teach dental floss to their young ones using human hair. (Source)


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