In the primate order there are 3 families and approximately 235 species. It includes humans, apes, monkeys, lemurs and other less well-known species. The word primate means “the first” and comes from earlier beliefs that these animals were superior to all others in intelligence. While it is true that non-human primates are highly intelligent, there are other animals such as whales, elephants and dolphins that are comparable in their cognitive abilities.
In the wild there are over 100 species of primates that are at risk of extinction. Habitat loss is leading to this threat.
Cynomolgus macaque - Macaca fascicularis
Macaques include a number of different species that range from India through northern China and Japan. They live in forests, swamps and even urban areas. Unique “hair styles” and tail length help in distinguishing one species from another.
In the wild, macaques form groups of 10-35 individuals. Mature males, females, and youngsters live together. Adolescent males form a separate group until they reached full maturity. Though approximately the same size, males are more dominant than females and can be very aggressive. As adults, males often move from one family group to another, while females remain together. Within the troop some indi - viduals will have higher status, similar to wolves’ alpha system. Higher-ranking monkeys will get better access to food, grooming and territory.
In wild troops, even males will help to care for the yearlings while mothers attend to their infants. Some individuals will act as sentries, watching for outside threats. Canine teeth in males can grow to be 3” long providing a very effective weapon against enemies.
Omnivorous in habit, macaques have special cheek pouches in which a great deal of food can be stored. These pouches allow foraging in one area and then moving to a safe spot to actually eat the food.
Because of their similarities to humans, macaques (especially rhesus macaques) are frequently used in medical research. The blood antigen known as the Rh factor was first discovered in rhesus macaque monkeys.
Squirrel Monkey - Saimiri sciureus
Squirrel monkeys inhabit the forests of Central America and northern South America. Like other rainforest dwellers they are negatively affected by the loss of habitat. These monkeys are almost exclusively arboreal. As a result they are often restricted from their normal range by road construction, impeding their movements from tree to tree. Troops range in areas 40 to 100 acres in size and contain 40 to 70 or more individuals.
Yellow-haired arms with black head, nose and mouth distinguish these active, little monkeys. While small in stature (weighing in at under 3 pounds) the males are actually quite well muscled and larger than the females, though not generally dominant toward them.
In nature, adult females and youngsters form separate groups from the males. Other females in the troop will help the mother with infant care. From birth infants are able to climb and, while young, use their tails in a prehensile fashion. This ability is lost as they get older.
As with all mammals, these monkeys depend on mother’s milk when young. When older they eat an omnivorous diet of fruits, nuts, flowers, insects and even small vertebrates and mollusks. Omnivorous, insectivorous, and frugivorous are all terms associated with the eating habits of squirrel monkeys. Omnivores eat both animal and plant products. Insectivores eat insects. Frugivores are fruit eaters. The type of teeth and digestive tract an animal has will control the kind of foods it consumes. Squirrel monkeys have pointed canine teeth and large cusps for securing and grinding insects. Sharp incisors tear off pieces of fruits and berries. Like all insect eating animals their digestive system is short. Most of their water comes from the foods they eat but they can also obtain it from puddles and rainfall caught in holes on trees.
Normally silent, they do have the ability to communicate with a variety of loud cries. These cries are used to warn of danger and establish territory. Group members can track each other through olfactory means. Urine is secreted on their hands and as they make their way through the treetops, it is deposited on the branches.