A monkey is a small, very frisky and funny animal. Distinctive features are the intelligence and incredible sociability of the animal. Often these animals are used as heroes of a circus show, as they willingly make contact with a person and are quite easy to train. The monkey has a small body size, is a member of the monkey family. This family includes a large number of species of small monkeys.
Origin of the species and description
Monkeys belong to chordate mammals; Monkeys are considered creatures most related to humans. The theory of their origin and evolution dates back many centuries and even millennia. Scientists have proven that the DNA of humans and monkeys has more than 80% similarity. A more detailed study of DNA showed that the process of evolution of monkeys and humans diverged approximately 6.5 million years ago.
According to scientists, the first and very distant ancestors of modern monkeys appeared on earth in the Cenozoic era. It happened about 66 million years ago. The first monkeys fed exclusively on insects, larvae and worms and lived in the crowns of tall trees. The most ancient ancestors of modern apes were called ancient lemurs. It was they who gave rise to many species of primates.
Numerous fossil finds discovered by archaeologists indicate that the first representatives of primates appeared on the territory of modern Egypt. In this region, vast wet, tropical forests stretched, which were the ideal habitat for these animals.
The ancient ancestors of modern monkeys became the ancestors of such species of monkeys as Gigantopithecus. They were huge and not distinguished by agility and ingenuity. The body size of some individuals exceeded three meters. As a result of changing climatic conditions and cooling, most of them died out. However, they gave rise to dryopithecus, which had smaller body dimensions and were distinguished by a more frisky character and ingenuity. It is this type of ancient primates that scientists call more than the first representatives of this species, which are as close as possible to modern species.
Appearance and Features
Monkeys are considered to be rather small monkeys. Their body length is from 30 to 100 centimeters. In these animals, sexual dimorphism is not significantly expressed. Males have larger body sizes than females. Depending on the species, some of its representatives may have an enviable, long and thin tail, while others do not have it at all. The length of the tail in some species exceeds the length of its own body and reaches one meter or more.
The physique also depends on the species. It can be thin and elongated, it can be massive and stocky. The back of the limb is always somewhat shorter than the front. They, like humans, have smaller hands than the feet. It is noteworthy that the hands are quite developed and the monkeys deftly use them like hands. Each finger of the hand has a flattened nail plate. The thumb, just like in humans, is different from all the others. In those monkeys that have a massive, stocky body, the thumb is not too developed, or completely absent.
The shape and size of the head also depends on the species. It can be small or large, elongated, round, or triangular in shape. The front part is most often elongated, the nostrils are located in close proximity to each other. The eyes may be deep set, large and very expressive.
Most monkey species have fairly long and silky hair, but not as thick as other monkey species. The color can be very diverse, depending on the subspecies: gray, brown, greenish, blue, black, brown, etc. Wool covers almost the entire body, with the exception of the soles of the feet, the front of the head, and the buttocks. In some species, hair is absent in the chest area. It is noteworthy that monkeys have a structure of jaws similar to humans. They have an almost identical shape of teeth, and their number is 32. Monkeys have a very developed brain and a complex structure of the stomach.
Where does the monkey live?
Monkeys adapt quite quickly in practice to any conditions of existence.
In their natural environment, they can also inhabit a wide variety of territories:
- tropical rainforests;
- mountainous or hilly areas;
- open areas, plains, or valleys of large rivers.
The main geographic regions of the monkeys are the African continent, with the exception of Madagascar, the central and southern regions of North and South America, and Australia.
Monkeys tend to unite in groups of various sizes. Each group occupies its own habitat. They tend to lead a sedentary lifestyle, and most of it live in one region. There are three categories of monkeys: arboreal, which spend most of their lives on the branches and crowns of tall trees, and terrestrial, which live and feed on the surface of the earth. There is also a mixed type of animals – they exist equally on the branches of trees and on the surface of the earth.
In addition to tall spreading trees, caves, gorges, and other secluded places are often chosen as places to stay for the night, which help to hide from predators and hide their babies from them until they get stronger and are ready to leave their shelters.
Now you know where the monkey lives. Let's see what she eats.
What does a monkey eat?
By nature, monkeys are either omnivores or herbivores. The diet depends on the subspecies and the region of habitat.
What serves as a food base for animals:
- fresh, juicy fruits;
- juicy shoots of green vegetation;
- flower plant buds;
- small insects.
Some subspecies of monkeys can eat beetles, worms, spiders, caterpillars, small reptiles, freshwater, lizards, chameleons, etc. Often there are representatives of individual subspecies that eat small birds, they can drink their eggs. Monkeys practically do not go to the watering place, as the body's need for fluid is replenished by juicy types of green vegetation and ripe fruits of fruit trees.
Monkeys most often pluck food with their forelimbs and use them as hands. Plant food in some subspecies is only 30-35% of the total daily diet. The rest of the food is replenished with protein, animal food. In some regions where the rainy season comes, plant foods are hard to come by. During this period, there are practically no berries, fruits and nuts in the forests, savannahs. Then the main food source of herbivorous species are seeds. On average, the daily food intake of one adult is from 1 to three kilograms of food.
Character and Lifestyle Features
By nature, little monkeys are endowed with a very developed brain, which increases their chances of survival and allows them to adapt to almost any conditions of existence. They also have a very poorly developed sense of smell from birth.
The nature of the little monkeys is very sociable and friendly. By nature, they are endowed with curiosity. The lifestyle of most species is mixed: terrestrial and arboreal. The vast majority of representatives of different species are diurnal monkeys. At night they tend to rest. Monkeys, like all other types of primates, it is unusual to lead a solitary lifestyle. They live in a group environment. The number of individuals in one such group can be varied: from 10 to 30 individuals. Some, especially large groups number about a hundred or more individuals. Each group has a male that acts as a leader, a leader.
Monkeys are by nature calm, friendly and do not tend to show aggression towards representatives of their own or another animal species. The exception is the breeding season, when males fight each other for the right to create a pair with a female representative.
During the day, animals mainly get their own food, frolic. They spend a lot of time caring for each other's coats. Thus, they get rid of parasites and keep the coat clean and tidy. At night, monkeys mostly rest. For the night, they most often settle in caves, stone or mountain crevices, crowns of branchy trees.
As a means of communication with each other, monkeys make various sounds. With their help, the monkeys warn their relatives about a possible danger, call each other for help, etc. It should be noted that the spectrum of sounds in monkeys is quite diverse.
Social structure and reproduction
Female monkeys reach puberty on average at the age of 3-5 years. In representatives of different species, this age may vary. The mating season is most often not confined to any season and can occur all year round. However, in some subspecies it may be confined to a certain period, depending on the climatic conditions of the habitat.
The strongest and most experienced male gets the right to create a pair with the female he likes. Sometimes males compete with each other for the right to create a pair. The male always looks after a potential partner. She watches him for a while. If she liked him, and she is ready to create a couple with him, she cleans his hair. This is the beginning of a relationship.
After mating, pregnancy occurs. It lasts approximately six months. In most cases, one cub is born, extremely rarely two. Most representatives of the species bring offspring every two years.
Childbirth most often occurs at night. To give birth, females go to trees, caves, or gorges. As soon as the baby is born, he begins to cling to the mother's wool with tenacious fingers. She holds him with her tail. Babies are born quite weak and helpless. The first months of a female's life spend quite a lot of time and energy caring for her offspring. The breastfeeding period lasts an average of six months.
When the kids get a little stronger, they learn to deftly and quickly climb onto their mother's back. After that, the female gradually goes out with them for short, short walks. As the cubs grow and get stronger, the females with them on their backs teach them to search for and obtain food, as well as educate them in self-preservation skills. Mothers also devote quite a lot of time to teaching kids tenacity, tree climbing speed, communication with relatives.
Upon reaching puberty, they leave their family and lead an independent, isolated lifestyle. The average lifespan in natural conditions is 16-20 years.
Natural enemies of the monkey
In their natural habitat, monkeys have quite a few enemies. They are helped to survive by the ability to climb high on trees, moreover, they can instantly climb to great heights, and are tenacious.
The enemies include:
- predatory felines – cheetahs , lions, jaguars, leopards;
- predatory species of large birds – eagles, ermines, harpies;
Humans can also be attributed to the enemies of monkeys. His activities practically deprive them of their homes. A man cuts down a fox, destroying and destroying the natural habitat of monkeys. The development of new territories contributes to the reduction and impoverishment of the food supply, which also negatively affects the number of animals.
By nature, monkeys are very inquisitive and active animals. Often this causes them mortal harm. Monkeys can grab a dangerous snake, or a poisonous spider, whose bites are often fatal to small animals. Monkeys are also sensitive to changes in climatic conditions and environmental pollution in their habitats.
Population and species status
To date, the population of monkeys in their natural habitat does not cause any concern. In ancient times, the tribes of the peoples of the African continent destroyed monkeys in large numbers. They were considered carriers of dangerous infectious diseases, and also caused significant damage to agricultural farmlands.
It was common for monkeys to eat root crops, seeds, fruits of fruit trees, and young shoots of various types of vegetation. Many tribes ate the meat of these animals.
An interesting fact: Many peoples of the African continent used monkeys as household helpers. They trained them and taught them how to assemble bananas or coconuts.
However, despite this, the number of monkeys did not suffer significantly, and they are widely distributed in nature due to their ability to quickly adapt to new living conditions. Many subspecies exist in national parks and reserves. The monkey is a very interesting, lively and sociable animal. They are easy to train and enjoy interacting with people.