Magot

Magot inhabits northern Africa and, most notably, lives in Europe. These are the only monkeys living in Europe in a natural environment – as far as it can even be called such, since they are trying in every possible way to protect them from dangers and provide them with everything necessary. Listed in the Red Book as an endangered species.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Magot

Photo: Magot

Magots were described in 1766 by K. Linnaeus, then they received the scientific name Simia inuus. Then it changed several times, and now the name of this species in Latin is Macaca sylvanus. Magots belong to the order of primates, and its origin is quite well studied. The closest ancestors of primates appeared back in the Cretaceous period, and if it was previously believed that they arose almost at its very end, 75-66 million years ago, then recently another point of view is more common: that they lived on the planet for about 80-105 million years ago.

Such data were obtained using the molecular clock method, and the first reliably established primate, purgatorius, appeared just before the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, the oldest finds are about 66 million years old. In size, this animal approximately corresponded to a mouse, and in appearance it looked like it. It lived on trees and ate insects.

Video: Magot

Simultaneously with it, such mammals related to primates as woolly wings (they are considered the closest) and bats appeared. The first primates arose in Asia, from there they settled first in Europe, and then in North America. Further, American primates developed separately from those that remained in the Old World, and mastered South America, over many millions of years of such separate development and adaptation to local conditions, their differences became very great.

The first known representative of the marmoset family, to which the magot belongs, has the difficult name nsungwepithek. These monkeys lived on Earth more than 25 million years ago, their remains were found in 2013, before that the victoriopithecus were considered the oldest monkeys. The macaque genus appeared much later – the oldest fossil found is a little over 5 million years old – and these are the bones of the macaque. Fossils of these monkeys are found throughout Europe, up to Eastern, although in our time they remained only in Gibraltar and North Africa.

Appearance and features

Photo: What a Magot looks like

Photo: What a Magot looks like

Magots, like and other macaques are small: males are 60-70 cm long, their weight is 10-16 kg, females are slightly smaller – 50-60 cm and 6-10 kg. Monkeys have a short neck, close-set eyes stand out on the head. The eyes themselves are small, their irises are brown. Magot’s ears are very small, almost invisible, and rounded.

The face is very small and surrounded by hair. Only the area of ​​skin between the head and mouth is hairless, it has a pink tint. Also, there is no hairline on the feet and palms, the rest of the Magot’s body is covered with medium-length thick fur. On the belly, its shade is lighter, to pale yellow. On the back and head it is darker, brownish-yellowish. The shade of the coat may vary: in some, the gray color predominates, and it may be lighter or darker, in other Magots the coat is closer to yellow or brown. Some even have a distinct reddish tint.

The thick coat allows the magot to successfully endure cold, even negative temperatures, although this is a very rare occurrence in their habitats. He does not have a tail, which is why one of the names comes from – tailless macaque. But the monkey has a remnant of it: a very small process in the place where it should be, from 0.5 to 2 cm.

The limbs of the magot are long, especially the front ones, and rather thin; but at the same time muscular, and the monkeys are excellent with them. They are able to jump far, quickly and deftly climb trees or rocks – and many live in mountainous areas where this skill is simply necessary.

Interesting fact: There is a legend that immediately after , as the monkeys disappear from Gibraltar, so will British rule over this territory.

Where does the Magoth live?

Photo: Magot macaques

Photo: Magot macaques

These macaques live in the territory 4 countries:

  • Tunisia;
  • Algeria;
  • Morocco;
  • Gibraltar (under British administration).

Remarkable as the only monkeys living in Europe in the natural environment. Previously, their range was much wider: in prehistoric times, they inhabited most of Europe and large areas in North Africa. The almost complete disappearance from Europe is due to the ice age, because of which it became too cold for them.

But even quite recently, Magots could be found on a much larger area – as early as the beginning of the last century. Then they met in most of Morocco and throughout the north of Algeria. To date, only a population in the Rif mountains in northern Morocco, scattered groups in Algeria, and very few monkeys in Tunisia remain.

They can live both in the mountains (but not higher than 2,300 meters) and on the plains. People drove them to the mountainous regions: this area is much less populated, so it is much calmer there. Therefore, Magots inhabit mountain meadows and forests: they can be found in oak or spruce forests, which overgrown the slopes of the Atlas Mountains. Although most of all they love cedars and prefer to live right next to them. But they do not settle in a dense forest, but near the edge, where it is thinner, they can also live in a clearing if there are shrubs on it.

During the ice age, they died out throughout Europe, and were brought to Gibraltar people, and already during the Second World War another delivery was made, since the local population almost disappeared. It was rumored that Churchill personally ordered this, although this has not been reliably clarified. Now you know where Magot lives. Let’s see what this macaque eats.

What does a macaque eat?

Photo: Magot Monkey

Photo: Magot Monkey

food of animal origin, and vegetable. The latter is its main part. These monkeys eat:

  • fruits;
  • stems;
  • leaves;
  • flowers;
  • seeds;
  • bark;
  • roots and bulbs.

That is, they can eat almost any part of the plant, and both trees and shrubs and grass are used. Therefore, starvation does not threaten them. In some plants, they prefer to eat leaves or flowers, others diligently dig up to get to the tasty root part.

But most of all they love fruits: first of all, these are bananas, as well as various citrus fruits, woody tomatoes, grenadillas, mangoes and others characteristic of the subtropical climate of North Africa. They can also pick berries and vegetables, sometimes they even raid the gardens of local residents.

In winter, the variety of menus is significantly reduced, Magots have to eat buds or needles, or even tree bark. Even in winter, they try to stay near water bodies, because it is easier to catch some living creatures there.

For example:

  • snails;
  • worms;
  • beetles;
  • spiders;
  • ants;
  • butterflies;
  • locusts;
  • mollusks;
  • scorpions.

As can be seen from this list, they are limited only to small living creatures, mainly insects, organized hunting for larger animals, even the size of a rabbit, is not conducted .

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Magot from the Red Book

Photo: Magot from the Red Book

Magots live in groups, usually numbering from a dozen to four dozen individuals. Each such group occupies its own territory, and quite extensive. They need a lot of land to feed on a daily basis: they bypass the most abundant food places with the whole flock. Usually they make a circle with a radius of 3-5 km and cover a considerable distance in a day, but by the end they return to the same place from which they started the journey. They live in the same territory, rarely migrate, mainly due to the activities of people, as a result of which the lands where the monkeys used to live are mastered by them.

After that, the magots cannot continue to live and feed on them, and they have to look for new ones. Sometimes migration is caused by a change in natural conditions: lean years, drought, cold winters – in the latter case, the problem is not so much in the cold itself, which the Magots do not care about, but in the fact that because of it there is less food. In rare cases, the group grows so much that it is divided into two, and the newly formed one goes in search of a new territory.

Day trips, like many other monkeys, are divided into two parts: before noon and after. Around noon, on the hottest part of the day, they usually rest in the shade under the trees. Cubs at this time are engaged in games, adults comb out wool. In the heat of the day, often 2-4 flocks gather at one watering place at once. They like to communicate and constantly do it both during the day hike and on vacation. For communication, they use a fairly wide range of sounds, supported by facial expressions, postures, gestures.

They move on four legs, sometimes stand on their hind legs and try to climb as high as possible in order to survey the surroundings and notice if there is anything edible nearby. They are good at climbing trees and rocks. In the evening they settle down for the night. Most often they spend the night in trees, arranging a nest for themselves on strong branches. The same nests are used for a long time, although they can arrange a new one every day. Instead, they sometimes spend the night in rock openings.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Magot Hatchling

Photo: Magot Hatchling

Groups of these monkeys have an internal hierarchy, with females at the head. Their role is higher, it is the main females who control all the monkeys in the group. But there are also alpha males, however, they lead only males and obey the “ruling” females.

Magots rarely show aggression towards each other, and who is more important is usually found out not in fights, but by the voluntary consent of those in a group of monkeys. Still, conflicts in the group happen, but much less often than in most other primate species.

Reproduction can occur at any time of the year, most often from November to February. Pregnancy lasts six months, then a child is born – twins are rare. A newborn weighs 400-500 grams, it is covered with soft dark wool.

At first, he spends all the time with his mother on his stomach, but then other members of the flock begin to take care of him, and not only females, but also males. Usually, each male chooses his beloved baby and spends the most time with him, takes care of him: cleans his coat and entertains him.

Males like it, and besides, it is important for the male to show himself on the good side because females choose their partners from among those who showed themselves better when communicating with cubs. By the beginning of the second week of life, little magots can walk independently, but on long journeys their mother continues to carry them on her back.

They feed on their mother’s milk for the first three months of life, then they begin to eat themselves, along with everyone else. At this time, their coat brightens – in very young monkeys it is almost black. By six months, adults almost stop playing with them, instead, young magots spend time playing with each other.

By the year they are already completely independent, but they become sexually mature much later: females are not earlier than three years old, but males and by the age of five. They live 20-25 years, females a little longer, up to 30 years.

Natural enemies of Magots

Photo: Magot of Gibraltar

Photo: Magot of Gibraltar

In nature, Magots have almost no enemies, since there are few large predators in North-West Africa that can threaten them. To the east there are crocodiles, to the south lions and leopards, but in the area where these macaques live, none of them exist. Only large eagles are dangerous.

Sometimes they prey on these monkeys: first of all, on cubs, since adults are already too big for them. Seeing a bird intending to attack, the magots begin to scream, warning their fellow tribesmen of the danger, and hide.

Much more dangerous enemies for these monkeys are people. As is the case with many other animals, it is because of human activities that the population decline is primarily due to. And this does not always mean direct extermination: even more damage is caused by deforestation and human transformation of the environment in which Magots live.

But there is also direct interaction: farmers in Algeria and Morocco often killed Magots in the past as pests, sometimes this happens to this day. These monkeys were traded, and poachers continue to do so in our time. The listed problems apply only to Africa, there are practically no threats in Gibraltar.

An interesting fact: During excavations in Novgorod in 2003, a Magot skull was found – a monkey lived in a year in the second half of the 12th or early 13th century. Perhaps it was given to the prince by Arab rulers.

Population and species status

Photo: What a Magot looks like

Photo: What a magot looks like

According to various estimates, from 8,000 to 16,000 Magots live in North Africa. Of this number, about three-quarters are in Morocco, and of the remaining quarter, almost all are in Algeria. Very few of them remain in Tunisia, and 250 – 300 monkeys live in Gibraltar.

If in the middle of the last century the Gibraltar population was threatened with extinction, now, on the contrary, it has become the only stable one: over the past decades, the number of Magots in Gibraltar is even growing a little. In Africa, it is gradually falling, which is why these macaques were classified as endangered species.

It’s all about the difference in approach: the Gibraltar authorities are really concerned about the preservation of the local population, while in African countries there is no such concern. As a result, for example, if the monkeys caused damage to the crop, then in Gibraltar they compensate for it, but in Morocco nothing can be obtained.

Hence the difference in attitude: farmers in Africa have to stand up for their interests, because of which they sometimes even shoot monkeys feeding on their land. Although Magots have lived in Europe since prehistoric times, genetic studies have established that the modern Gibraltar population was brought from Africa, and the original population completely died out.

It was found that the closest ancestors of the current Gibraltar Magots came from Moroccan and Algerian populations, but none of them were from the Iberian. But they were brought before the British appeared in Gibraltar: most likely, they were brought by the Moors when they owned the Iberian Peninsula.

Magoth Guard

Photo: Magot from the Red Book

Photo: Magot from the Red Book

This species of monkeys is included in the Red Book as endangered due to the fact that its population is small and tends to further decline. However, in places where the largest number of Magots live, so far few measures have been taken to protect them. Monkeys continue to be exterminated and caught for sale in private collections.

But at least in Gibraltar, they should be preserved, since a large number of measures are being taken to protect the local population, several organizations are involved in this at once. Thus, the magots are supplied with fresh water, fruits, vegetables and other food every day – despite the fact that they mainly continue to eat in their natural environment.

This allows the reproduction of monkeys to be stimulated, since it depends on the abundance of food. Trapping and health checks are carried out regularly, they are tattooed with numbers, and they also receive special microchips. By these means, each individual is carefully accounted for.

Interesting fact: Due to frequent contact with tourists, the Gibraltar magots became overly dependent on people, they began to visit the city for food and violate order. Because of this, it is no longer possible to feed the monkeys in the city, for a violation you will have to pay a considerable fine. But they managed to return the Magots to their natural habitat: now they are fed there.

The Magot is a peaceful and defenseless monkey in front of people. The population is declining year after year along with the lands available to them for living, and in order to reverse this trend, it is necessary to take measures to protect them. As practice has shown, such measures can have an effect, because the Gibraltar population of these monkeys has been stabilized.

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