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Guenons

Guenon Relatives

The genus Cercopithecus has three offshoots that have adapted to other environmental conditions and evolved morphological traits that distinguish them from other guenons. Consequently, some scientists have assigned them separate generic status. The first of these relatives, is the dwarf guenon. Known formally as Cercopithecus talapoin, the dwarf monkey has been classified by some scientists in a separate genus called Miopithecus. Other scientists place these guenons in a subgenus by the same name. This monkey is significantly smaller than all other guenons and has morphological traits (in body structure) are directly related to its reduced size. It is found is swampy forests and mangrove swamps near the coast. It eats plants, nuts, insects, and, on occasion, small animals.

The second of these relatives is the swamp guenon (Cercopithecus nigroviridis). Like the dwarf guenon, it prefers to live in swampy forests. This monkey's skull and other anatomical characteristics are similar to those of baboons. These differences, combined with significant behavioral and vocal differences, have caused some scientists to classify them in a separate genus (Allenopithecus). Other scientists, who allow a wide range of guenon characteristics, classify swamp guenons in the subgenus Allenopithecus within the genus Cercopithecus. Very little is known about these monkeys in the wild. In captivity, they are very agile and tireless. It is believed that they live in small groups and eat a vegetarian diet.

The third relative of the guenon is the red guenon or dancing monkey, classified by all in a completely separate genus (Erythrocebus). It is the only species of guenon that lives primarily in semi-arid savanna, avoiding forests even when threatened. Thus, it has made several adaptations distinguishing it from all of its relatives. These characteristics are: a rough coat, long and slender arms and legs, short hands and feet, and whiskers and mustaches on adult males. These guenons live in troops of 7-15, containing only one male. The male acts as a sentry, and is always looking for potential enemies. If something threatens the troop, the male red guenon distracts the animal while the others flee. Red guenons feed on plants, insects, and small animals. There are two subspecies of red guenon: the patas monkey and the Nisnas monkey.


Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Glucagon to HabitatGuenons - General Characteristics, Breeding, Habitat, Activity, Guenon Relatives, In Captivity