Monkey (animal) – Information, habitat, food and characteristics

We explain everything about the monkey, where it lives, what it feeds on and other characteristics. Also, how is its reproduction and how long it lives.

Monkeys can lead very different life patterns, depending on the species.

What are monkeys?

With the term monkey we usually refer colloquially to any of the 200 known species of tailed primates, classifiable into platyrhines (New World monkeys) or cercopithecoids (Old World monkeys), since they can lead very different life patterns, depending on the habitat and the species.

Monkeys are sociable mammals of medium intelligence, are part of our closest evolutionary relatives, something that is obvious given the physical similarities that they present with respect to the human body.

For this reason, it is important to distinguish between monkeys and hominoid apes, such as orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees or gibbons, primates that are evolutionarily much closer to human beings. The difference between one and the other has to do with the presence in monkeys of a tail and a more primitive and smaller skeleton.

However, monkeys share many fundamental characteristics with other primates (including humans), such as their development slower than that of other mammals of similar size, later maturity and a higher life expectancy. , in addition to a more active social life.

In fact, the possibility of zoonosis, that is, of the transmission of diseases between monkeys and humans, is evidence of the degree of similarity of our physiological systems.

Monkeys characteristics

monkey features
The monkeys form herds with different levels of organization and hierarchy.

Broadly speaking, monkeys are characterized by the following features:

  • As we have said before, they should be classified into Old World Monkeys (Cercopitecids) and New World Monkeys (Platyrhines). Each group has its own characteristics, because evolution pushed them down different paths as they were geographically separated for 135 million years.
  • They are animals mammals, endowed with four prehensile limbs and a tail, with a body covered with diverse fur. Their size tends to be small to medium (in the case of Platyrhines) or medium to large (in the case of Cercopitecids).
  • They have five-fingered hands, devoid of claws and endowed with an opposable thumb., which allows them to hold onto tree branches and, eventually, grasp instruments. Similarly, their tails can be prehensile (platyrhine) or nonprehensile (cercopitecids).
  • They present a human-like dentition: three molars, two incisors and a tusk on each side of the mouth.
  • They have a great visual capacity, predominant sense with respect to the others, followed by hearing and lastly, smell. The eyes are large and directed forward, allowing stereoscopic vision.
  • They are social animals, which form herds with different levels of organization and hierarchy.

Where do monkeys live?

monkey habitat where it lives
Monkeys can be found in habitats as diverse as the jungle and the savannah.

The monkeys have wild presence in America, Asia and Africa, and the vast majority inhabit jungles and forests bushy, although many species have adapted to life in the great savannas. Old World monkeys (cercopitecids) inhabit Africa, Asia, and parts of the Middle East; while the New World monkeys (Platyrhines) inhabit the American continent.

What do monkeys eat?

In general, like the rest of the primates, the monkeys present a omnivorous and opportunistic feeding, who chooses very varied food sources.

The vast majority make up their diet from products of the jungle vegetation, such as fruits, leaves, shoots, flowers, stems, seeds and resins, with special emphasis on insects to obtain nutrients present in the animal organism. However, there are species adapted to eating meat, for which they hunt small rodents, birds, lizards, bats, squirrels and even snakes.

How do monkeys reproduce?

monkey reproduction
Monkeys have long gestations and long lactations.

The reproduction of monkeys is always sexual and viviparous, very similar to human. Their gestations are long and lactation long, and very few young (one or two) are usually born at each delivery.

How long do monkeys live?

The life expectancy of the monkeys in the wild can vary immensely depending on the species. The smallest can be around 15 to 20 years old, while the largest species can live 35 to 45 years. These periods may be slightly longer in ideal captivity.