Wild toque macaque (Macaca sinica) in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Bonnet macaque

Monkeys are non-hominoid simians, generally possessing tails and consisting of about 260 known living species. Many monkey species are tree-dwelling (arboreal), although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Most species are also active during the day (diurnal). Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent, particularly Old World monkeys.

There are two major types of monkey: New World monkeys (platyrrhines) from South and Central America and Old World monkeys (catarrhines of the superfamily Cercopithecoidea) from Africa and Asia. Apes (hominoids)—consisting of gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans—are also catarrines but are classically distinguished from monkeys. (Tailless monkeys may be called "apes", incorrectly according to modern usage; thus the tailless Barbary macaque is sometimes called the "Barbary ape".) Simians and tarsiers emerged within haplorrhines some 60 million years ago. New World monkeys and catarrhine monkeys emerged within the simians some 35 million years ago. Old World monkeys and Hominoidea emerged within the catarrhine monkeys some 25 million years ago. Extinct basal simians such as Aegyptopithecus or Parapithecus are also considered monkeys by primatologists.

Lemurs, lorises, and galagos are not monkeys; instead they are strepsirrhine primates. Like monkeys, tarsiers are haplorhine primates; however, they are also not monkeys.

Apes emerged within the catarrhines with the Old World monkeys as a sister group, so cladistically they are monkeys as well. However, traditionally apes are not considered monkeys, rendering this grouping paraphyletic. The smallest clade that includes all monkeys and hence their ape offshoot are the simians.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word "monkey" may originate in a German version of the Reynard the Fox fable, published circa 1580. In this version of the fable, a character named Moneke is the son of Martin the Ape. In English, no very clear distinction was originally made between "ape" and "monkey"; thus the 1910 Encyclopædia Britannica entry for "ape" notes that it is either a synonym for "monkey" or is used to mean a tailless humanlike primate. Colloquially, the terms "monkey" and "ape" are widely used interchangeably. Also, a few monkey species have the word "ape" in their common name, such as the Barbary ape.

This page was last edited on 14 March 2018, at 12:46.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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