Monkeys are furry animals with long, fur-covered tails and hands with thumbs.
There are more than 260 different species of monkeys in the world.
Monkeys are often divided into old world monkeys and new world monkeys, depending on where they live in the world. The New World monkeys live in the Americas, while Old World monkeys live in Asia and Africa.
There are a few characteristics that are different between the Old World and New World monkeys: The noses of New World monkeys are flatter than the narrow noses of the Old World monkeys, and have side-facing nostrils. Old World monkeys don’t have prehensile tails; New World monkeys do. Old World monkeys have cheek pouches, where food is stuffed on the run so it can be chewed later; New World monkeys don’t have cheek pouches. Old World monkeys have sitting pads on their rumps, but New World monkeys do not.
Monkeys should be distinguished from apes, as most monkeys have tails and apes do not.
Monkeys generally reside in forests, high plains, grasslands and mountains.
The lifespan of a monkey is 10 to 50 years, depending on the species.
The smallest species of monkey is the pygmy marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea), with a head-body length ranging from 117 to 152 millimeters (4.6 to 6 inches) and a tail of 172 to 229 millimeters (6.8 to 9 inches).
The largest species of monkey is the mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx), at 1 meter (3.3 feet) long and weighing up to 36 kilograms (79 pounds).
Many monkey species are tree-dwelling (arboreal), although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons.
Most species are also active during the day (diurnal).
Monkeys are very social animals that usually eat, sleep and travel in groups. A troop can number from a few individuals to a thousand or more, depending on the species.
Groups of monkeys are known as a ‘troop’, ‘tribe’ or ‘mission’.
Monkeys use vocalizations, facial expressions, and body movements to communicate.
Monkeys express affection and make peace with others by grooming each other.
It is quite common for male monkeys to fight in order to become the alpha or leader of the group, since that accords them the right to mate with the females in the group.
Monkeys do not have a definite mating season and can be seen mating at any time of the year provided the conditions are right. Most mate if there is a good supply of food and the environment seems safe for rearing young ones.
The gestation period lasts between 134 to 237 days, depending on the species. Most monkeys give birth to only one baby at a time.
Once born, baby monkeys are primarily cared for by their mother. If the monkeys are monogamous, the baby monkey may be cared for by both parents. Many times, a young monkey will ride on its mother’s back or hang from her neck. The baby is considered an adult between four and five years old.
Monkey predation depends on the species of monkey and the area to which it is indigenous. The predators that target monkeys in the rainforest, for example, include crocodiles, big cats, caimans and snakes.
There is information to suggest that monkeys have been around for roughly 50 million years, evolving from early primates.
Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent, particularly Old World monkeys.
Monkeys can count.
Patas monkeys can run on the ground at up to 55 kilometer (34 miles) per hour, making them the fastest primate on land.
Howler monkeys are the loudest monkeys—their deep, howling calls can be heard almost 3 kilometers (2 miles) through the forest and more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) over open areas like lakes. The males call to announce their territory to other troops.
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.
The first monkey in space was Albert II, who flew in the US-launched V-2 rocket on June 14, 1949.
Monkeys are trained and employed as harvesters of large coconut plantations in Malaysia and Thailand.
There’s a restaurant in Japan using monkeys as waiters.
Monkey brains are eaten as a delicacy in parts of South Asia, Africa and China.
Hanuman, a prominent divine entity in Hinduism, is a human-like monkey god. He bestows courage, strength and longevity to the person who thinks about him or the god Rama.
In Buddhism, the monkey is an early incarnation of Buddha but may also represent trickery and ugliness. The Chinese Buddhist “mind monkey” metaphor refers to the unsettled, restless state of human mind.
The Monkey is the ninth in the twelve-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “monkey” may originate in a German version of the Reynard the Fox fable, published circa 1580. In this version of the fable, a character named Moneke is the son of Martin the Ape. In English, no very clear distinction was originally made between “ape” and “monkey”; thus the 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica entry for “ape” notes that it is either a synonym for “monkey” or is used to mean a tailless humanlike primate.