Old World Monkeys can be broken into two families: Cercopithecinae and Colobinae, covering approximately 78 species. They live in South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Habitats include tropical forests, arid grasslands, islands, steppes, and mountainous areas.
Cercopithecinae, which means tailed monkeys, usually sleep in trees or on cliffs. In this group are the African baboons, mangabeys, mandrills, guenons, and patas monkeys. Macaques live in Asia and Gibraltar. Males are usually twice the size of females and are much more aggressive. Other traits these monkeys share are cheek pouches and ischial callosities, hairless rumps. Cercopithecinae monkeys are diurnal, and usually larger than their new world cousins. None have prehensile tails.
Colobinae family includes the colobus of Africa, and South Asian langurs and proboscis monkeys. They do not have cheek pouches, but have sacculated (compartmented) stomachs that helps them digest plant matter better. They inhabit woodlands, forests, mangroves, swamps, savannas, wooded grasslands, and scrub.
Old World Monkeys have small curbed nostrils set close together. They are very social animals and communicate through vocalizations, facial expressions, and body movements. “Grinning,” pulling the lip up to show the teeth, yawning, are usually signs of aggression or anger.
Fun Old World Monkeys Facts
- Cercopithecinae monkeys are omnivores.
- Allen’s swamp monkeys "fish" by laying leaves or grass on top of the water, and grabbing any fish that come to hide underneath.
- A male baboon can weigh 80 pounds.
- The fastest primate on land is the Patas monkey, who can run at up to 31 miles per hour.
- Macaque troops average 20 monkeys.
- In the trees, Debrazza guenons can make 10 to 20 feet leaps.
- Colobinae are herbivores and are sometimes called leaf-eating monkeys.
- Adult proboscis male monkeys develop very long noses.
- African colobus monkeys are the only Old World monkey to be thumbless.
The Primates: Old World Monkeys
San Diego Zoo