Monkeys belong to the order Primates. They are divided into two main groups: the Platyrrhini which brings together the monkeys of Central and South America, and the Cercopithecidae, which brings together the monkeys of Africa and Asia. There is no longer any doubt that the human being is also an ape but the term only refers to animals. These are intelligent and social and share several characteristics with humans.
Characteristics of monkeys
Monkeys come in a wide variety of sizes. The body of the smallest monkey in the known world, the pygmy marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea), measures between 12 to 15 cm, elongated by a tail of 17 to 23 cm, for a weight of 85 to 160 g. In contrast, the largest apes, such as gorillas, can measure 2 m in height and weigh up to 280 kg. Their fore and hind limbs are generally similar in length, with hands and feet adapted for grasping. A large number of species have a tail. It is prehensile in the Platyrrhini. Their faces express a wide range of emotions, thanks to developed facial musculature.
Monkeys are found from dense tropical forests to arid savannahs and mountains. Platyrrhini are primarily arboreal, while Cercopithecidae often spend as much time on land as in trees.
Monkey diets vary greatly depending on the species. They can eat fruits, leaves, flowers, insects, and, in some cases, small animals. This dietary diversity reflects their ability to adapt to different environments. Monkeys are now recognized for their role in seed dispersal, important for the health and regeneration of forests.
Reproduction of monkeys
Reproduction also varies depending on the species, but most observe gestation periods ranging from 4 to 8 months, giving birth to only one young at a time. Parental care is primarily provided by the mother, although in some species males and other members of the group actively participate in the care of the young. The groups formed by monkeys correspond to complex social structures where hierarchy can influence reproduction.
Conservation status of monkeys in the wild
Many species of monkeys are currently threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation, poaching and the illegal pet trade. Conservation efforts focus on protecting their habitats, laws regulating hunting and trade, and establishing captive breeding programs. Despite these efforts, the conservation status of many species remains worrying, requiring coordinated international action for their preservation.
Apes demonstrate advanced cognitive abilities that, in some cases, come very close to those of humans. Many species of monkeys have been shown to be able to use tools to facilitate obtaining food or defending themselves. They use a wide variety of vocalizations, facial expressions and gestures to communicate with each other. They can implement very varied and complex social behaviors ranging from cooperation, manipulation and deception. Experiments have shown that monkeys are capable of solving complex problems, often using logic and reasoning. Some monkeys also showed signs of self-awareness, a trait considered a sign of advanced intelligence.