2 minute read


Physical Characteristics

Male baboons are nearly twice the size of the females. The common savanna baboon (Papio cynocephalus) inhabits savanna woodlands and forest edges in Ethiopia, Angola, and South Africa. Savanna baboons eat grass, fruit, seeds, insects, and small mammals. These baboons have a gray coat with long hair covering their shoulders, and a patch of shiny black bare skin on their hips. Their tails are hook-shaped, a result of the fusion of several vertebrae. In East and Central Africa P. cynocephalus is yellow; in the highlands of East Africa this species is olive-colored.

The hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas) is found in the rocky and subdesert regions of Ethiopia, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and South Yemen, with grass and thorn bush vegetation. These baboons feed on grass seeds, roots, and bulbs. Females and young hamadryas baboons have a brown coat, while adult males have a silver-gray mane over their shoulders and brilliant red bare skin on their face and around their genitals. This baboon was sacred to the ancient Egyptians; it is depicted in Egyptian art as an attendant or representative of the god Thoth, the god of letters and scribe of the gods. This species has been exterminated in Egypt and its numbers are reduced elsewhere in its range.

The Guinea baboon (P. papio) also feeds on grass, fruit, seeds, insects, and small animals and is found in the savanna woodlands of Senegal and Sierra Leone. These baboons have a brown coat, bare red skin around their rump, and a reddish brown face.

The drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) lives in the rain-forests of southeast Nigeria, western Cameroon, and Gabon, and feeds on fruit, seeds, fungi, roots, insects, and small animals. Drills have a brown-black coat and a naked rump ranging from blue to purple. A fringe of white hair surrounds a black face and the long muzzle has ridges along its sides.

The mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) is the largest monkey. It lives in southern Cameroon, Gabon, and Congo in rainforests. Its diet includes fruit, seeds, fungi, roots, insects, and small animals. Mandrill males have a blue-purple bare rump, and a bright red stripe running down the middle of their muzzle with blue ridges on the sides and a yellow beard. Female and the young mandrills are similarly colored, but less brilliantly.

Gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada) are found in the grasslands of Ethiopia, where they eat grass, roots, bulbs, seeds, fruit, and insects. Geladas have a long brown coat, hair that is cream colored at the tips and a long mantle of hair covering their shoulders and giving them the appearance of wearing a cape. The bare rump of both sexes is red and somewhat fat. Both sexes also have an area of bare red skin around their necks and the females have small white blister-like lumps in this area of their bodies that swell during menstruation.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: A-series and B-series to Ballistic Missiles - Categories Of Ballistic MissileBaboons - Physical Characteristics, Social Behavior, Baboon Friendships, Food And Foraging Habits, Communication, Baboon Models