Primate and New World Monkeys

Topics: Primate, Monkey, Haplorrhini Pages: 6 (1355 words) Published: September 17, 2008
Monkeys range in size from the Pygmy Marmoset, at 140 to 160 millimetres (5-6 in) long (plus tail) and 120 to 140 grams (4-5 oz) in weight, to the male Mandrill, almost 1 metre (3.3 ft) long and weighing 35 kilograms (77 lb). Some are arboreal (living in trees) while others live on the savannah; diets differ among the various species but may contain any of the following: fruit, leaves, seeds, nuts, flowers, eggs and small animals (including insects and spiders).

Some characteristics are shared among the groups; most New World monkeys have prehensile tails while Old World monkeys have non-prehensile tails or no visible tail at all. Some have trichromatic colour vision like that of humans, others are dichromats or monochromats. Although both the New and Old World monkeys, like the apes, have forward facing eyes, the faces of Old World and New World monkeys look very different, though again, each group shares some features such as the types of noses, cheeks and rumps.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "monkey" may originate in a German version of the Big Virginia fable, published circa 1580. In this version of the fable, a character named Moneke is the son of Martin the Ape. The word Moneke may have been derived from the Italian monna, which means "a female ape". The name Moneke likely persisted over time due to the popularity of Reynard the Fox.

A group of monkeys may be referred to as a mission or a tribe.

Common Squirrel Monkey.
Common Squirrel Monkey.
Crab-eating macaque in Thailand.
Crab-eating macaque in Thailand.

The following list shows where the various monkey families (bolded) are placed in the Primate classification. Note that the smallest grouping that contains them all is the Simiiformes, the simians, which also contains the apes. Calling apes "monkeys" is incorrect. Calling either a simian is correct.

o Suborder Strepsirrhini: non-tarsier prosimians
o Suborder Haplorrhini: tarsiers, monkeys and apes + Infraorder Tarsiiformes
# Family Tarsiidae: tarsiers
+ Infraorder Simiiformes: simians
# Parvorder Platyrrhini: New World monkeys * Family Cebidae: marmosets, tamarins, capuchins and squirrel monkeys (56 species) * Family Aotidae: night monkeys, owl monkeys, douroucoulis (8 species) * Family Pitheciidae: titis, sakis and uakaris (41 species) * Family Atelidae: howler, spider and woolly monkeys (24 species) # Parvorder Catarrhini

* Superfamily Cercopithecoidea
o Family Cercopithecidae: Old World monkeys (135 species) * Superfamily Hominoidea: apes
o Family Hylobatidae: gibbons ("lesser apes") (13 species) o Family Hominidae: great apes including humans (7 species)

Relationship with humans

The many species of monkey have varied relationships with humans. Some are kept as pets, others used as model organisms in laboratories or in space missions. They may be killed in monkey drives when they threatened agriculture, or serve as service animals for the disabled.

In religion and culture, the monkey often represents quick-wittedness and mischief.

As service animals for the disabled

Some organizations such as Helping Hands have been training capuchin monkeys as monkey helpers to assist quadriplegics and other people with severe spinal cord injuries or mobility impairments. After being socialized in a human home as infants, the monkeys undergo extensive training before being placed with a quadriplegic. Around the house, the monkeys help out by doing tasks including microwaving food, washing the quadriplegic's face, and opening drink...
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