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Interesting Facts about Monkeys

Gaynor Borade
The monkey species as we know it today is either Cercopithecoid - The Old World Species, or Platyrrhine - The New World primates. A total of more than 260 species are extant in the modern world, and all of them are distinct in behavior and habitat. This article provides some facts about monkeys.
It is important to understand that the term 'monkey' basically refers to primates that are not prosimians or apes. Extant monkey communities are broadly categorized as simian primates.
The primary difference between monkeys and apes is that the former are smaller and longer-tailed. The division of the species into the parvorder Platyrrhini (New World) and Catarrhini (Old World - of the superfamily Cercopithecoidea) makes these creatures paraphyletic, or without any one coherent group.

Some Interesting Facts

  • The Mandrill is often mistaken for an ape due to its size (1-3 ft). However, it is actually an Old World monkey.
  • Monkeys can weigh anywhere between three ounces to over a hundred pounds.
  • They are observed to display a definite preference for peeled bananas and do not eat the fruit with the skin on!
  • They are known to carry tuberculosis, simian herpes B, and hepatitis infections.
  • Squirrel monkeys, natives of South America, grow to a length of not more than ten inches.
  • The Owl monkey is the only extant nocturnal monkey.
  • In Southeast Asia and Africa, monkey brains are eaten as a delicacy. The animals are also sold as 'bushmeat'.
  • There were twenty-one monkey species listed as 'critically endangered' on the Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species, issued in 2007.
  • A group of monkeys is referred to as a 'troop' or 'mission'. Monkey troops are known to have several hundred monkeys in them.
  • In Chinese astrology, the animal represents the ninth of the twelve-year cycle. The next monkey-dominated Chinese zodiac will be recognized in 2016.
  • Research reveals that Old World monkeys are a common sight across Asia, Africa, and Europe, while New World monkeys are seen in North and South America.
  • Not all of them are arboreal (living in trees). They also display diversity in diet, which basically comprises different preference levels for eggs, small animals and insects, fruit, leaves, and seeds.
  • Their sizes are as diverse as 5-6 inches of the Pygmy Marmoset, to nearly 3 feet of the male Mandrill. The Baboon is the largest, while the Marmoset is the smallest extant monkey.
  • New World monkeys are characterized by prehensile tails, while their Old World counterparts have no visible tail at all. Old World monkeys have 32 teeth, four less than New World monkeys.
  • The name monkey is believed to have originated from the German version of the fable, Reynard the Fox. The basic identification was with the character Moneke, the son of Martin the Ape!
  • Howler monkeys are recognized as the loudest land animals in the world. These creatures howl loudly at dawn and dusk every single day, a noise that can be heard for up to three miles and further away.
  • NASA flew a Rhesus macaque named Sam to a height of 55 miles, in 1959. But 10 years earlier, Albert II - another Rhesus Monkey, became the first monkey in space aboard the V-2 rocket, in 1949.
  • The Rhesus Macaque and Green are a common sight at animal testing facilities around the world. These animals are captured and purpose-bred due to faster reproductive cycle and physical and psychological similarity to humans.
In world religions, these creatures earn reverence and honor as Sun Wukong - the 'Monkey King' in Chinese mythology, Hanuman - a divine entity in Hinduism, and Mind Monkey - a metaphor to highlight the restless human mind in Buddhism. They are hunted to serve as pets, model laboratory specimens, and as aids for the disabled.
Capuchin monkeys are domesticated to serve as helpers. They are taught to assist quadriplegics and people suffering from spinal cord injuries. Domestic antics caught on camera include heating food in the microwave and opening drink bottles.