It is important to understand that the term 'monkey' basically refers to primates that are not prosimians or apes. Extant monkey communities are broadly categorized as simian primates.
The primary difference between monkeys and apes is that the former are smaller and longer-tailed. The division of the species into the parvorder Platyrrhini (New World) and Catarrhini (Old World - of the superfamily Cercopithecoidea) makes these creatures paraphyletic, or without any one coherent group.
Some Interesting Facts
- They are known to carry tuberculosis, simian herpes B, and hepatitis infections.
- The Owl monkey is the only extant nocturnal monkey.
- In Southeast Asia and Africa, monkey brains are eaten as a delicacy. The animals are also sold as 'bushmeat'.
- There were twenty-one monkey species listed as 'critically endangered' on the Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species, issued in 2007.
- In Chinese astrology, the animal represents the ninth of the twelve-year cycle. The next monkey-dominated Chinese zodiac will be recognized in 2016.
- Research reveals that Old World monkeys are a common sight across Asia, Africa, and Europe, while New World monkeys are seen in North and South America.
- Not all of them are arboreal (living in trees). They also display diversity in diet, which basically comprises different preference levels for eggs, small animals and insects, fruit, leaves, and seeds.
- Their sizes are as diverse as 5-6 inches of the Pygmy Marmoset, to nearly 3 feet of the male Mandrill. The Baboon is the largest, while the Marmoset is the smallest extant monkey.
- The name monkey is believed to have originated from the German version of the fable, Reynard the Fox. The basic identification was with the character Moneke, the son of Martin the Ape!
- Howler monkeys are recognized as the loudest land animals in the world. These creatures howl loudly at dawn and dusk every single day, a noise that can be heard for up to three miles and further away.
- NASA flew a Rhesus macaque named Sam to a height of 55 miles, in 1959. But 10 years earlier, Albert II - another Rhesus Monkey, became the first monkey in space aboard the V-2 rocket, in 1949.
In world religions, these creatures earn reverence and honor as Sun Wukong - the 'Monkey King' in Chinese mythology, Hanuman - a divine entity in Hinduism, and Mind Monkey - a metaphor to highlight the restless human mind in Buddhism. They are hunted to serve as pets, model laboratory specimens, and as aids for the disabled.