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New World Monkeys


The best known New World monkey (the one often known as the "organ grinder" monkey) is the capuchin (genus Cebus). This small monkey got its name from the dark patch of hair on the top of its head that resembles the hood worn by Capuchin monks. The four species of capuchins are also sometimes called ringtail monkeys because they carry their tails with the end curved into a circle.

Capuchins occur throughout Central and South America, from Honduras to southern Brazil. Capuchins live in open or closed forests, low-lying rain forests, or forested mountainsides. Capuchins eat a lot of fruit and often maraud through cultivated orchards; when an animal locates a good fruit tree, it makes loud whistling calls that draw the rest of its group to the food source.

Capuchins measure about 18 in (45 cm) long, with a tail of the same length. The tail is only semi-prehensile, in that the monkey can wrap it around a branch to anchor itself, but the tail cannot support the animal's weight. Capuchins are intelligent monkeys with a relatively large brain.

The black-capped capuchin (C. apella) of Columbia has a mat of dark fur standing up on its crown, often forming "horns," while the remainder of the body is grayish-brown. This monkey cracks nuts against the branches on which it sits.

Other species of capuchins lack the mat of hair on the head and have more variation in their body color. The white-fronted capuchin (C. albifrons) is found in an area from Ecuador to Columbia and even on the Pacific shores, where they eat oysters and crabs. This monkey is light tan in color with little variation in shading. The white-throated capuchin (C. capucinus) is found from Central America to Ecuador. It is also primarily pale with a white face, but its fur grades into black down its back, on the crown on its head, and on its hands and feet. The weeper or wedge-capped capuchin (C. nigrivittatus) has a crown patch that makes a dark point above the eyes.

The capuchins congregate in large groups of up to 30 members, including several males, who often bond together. After a 180-day gestation period, a single infant is born. Females mature sexually at age four, males at seven or eight. These friendly, intelligent monkeys have been known to live in captivity for more than 40 years.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Mysticism to Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotideNew World Monkeys - Capuchins, The Night Monkey, Titis, Squirrel Monkeys, The Saki Family, Howler Monkeys