|White-headed capuchin (Cebus capucinus)|
Habitat and lifespan[change | change source]
Capuchin monkeys live in Central America and South America. They make their home in trees, traveling during the day and sleeping in the trees at night.
Capuchins live in groups of 10 to 40 members. These groups consist of related females and their offspring, as well as several males. Usually groups are dominated by a single male. The Capuchins in a group will groom each other and vocalize to communicate. The Capuchin group will be protective of its territory, marking a central area of their territory with urine and defending it against intruders.
Females bear young every two years following a 160 to 180 day gestation. The young cling to their mother's chest until they are larger, when they move to her back. Adult male capuchins rarely take part in caring for the young. Within four years for females and eight years for males, juveniles become fully mature. In captivity, individual capuchins have reached an age of 45 years, although life expectancy in nature is only 15 to 25 years.
Intelligence[change | change source]
Capuchins are considered the most intelligent New World monkeys and are often used in laboratories. The tufted capuchin is especially noted for its long-term tool usage, one of the few examples of primate tool use other than by apes. Upon seeing macaws eating palm nuts, cracking them open with their beaks, these capuchins will select a few of the ripest fruits, nip off the tip of the fruit and drink down the juice, then seemingly discard the rest of the fruit with the nut inside. When these discarded fruits have hardened and become slightly brittle, the capuchins will gather them up again and take them to a large flat boulder where they have previously gathered a few river stones from up to a mile away. They will then use these stones, some of them weighing as much as the monkeys, to crack open the fruit to get to the nut inside. Young capuchins will watch this process to learn from the older, more experienced adults. It may take a capuchin up to 8 years to master this skill.
Relationship with Humans[change | change source]
Capuchin monkeys can be recognized as the "organ grinder" or "greyhound jockey" monkeys. Capuchins are sometimes kept as exotic pets. Sometimes they plunder fields and crops and are seen as troublesome by nearby human populations. In some regions they have become rare due to the destruction of their habitat.
They are also used as service animals, sometimes being called "nature's butlers." Some organizations have been training capuchin monkeys to assist quadriplegics as monkey helpers in a manner similar to mobility assistance dogs. After being socialized in a human home as infants, the monkeys undergo extensive training before being placed with a quadriplegic. Around the house, the monkeys help out by doing tasks including microwaving food, washing the quadriplegic's face, and opening drink bottles.
Capuchin monkeys are featured in the movies Outbreak, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (and its sequels), the Zookeeper film, George of the Jungle, and The Hangover Part II. Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) on the NBC sitcom Friends had a capuchin monkey named Marcel.
Food[change | change source]
The diet of the capuchins is more varied than other 'New World' monkeys such as spider monkeys. They are omnivores, eating not only fruits, nuts, seeds, and buds, but also insects, spiders, birds' eggs, and small vertebrates. Capuchins living near water will also eat crabs and shellfish by cracking their shells with stones.
Physical description[change | change source]
Capuchins are darkly black or brown except for the face, throat and chest, that are white coloured. They reach a length of 30 to 56 cm (12–22 in), with tails that are just as long as the body.
References[change | change source]
- Fragaszy et al. (2004). The complete capuchin : the biology of the genus Cebus. Cambridge University Press. p. 5. . .
- "Black-faced Capuchin". Amazonian Rainforest. Monkey Jungle. http://www.monkeyjungle.com/amazonian.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-13.[unreliable source?]
- Boinski, S., Quatrone, R. P. & Swartz, H. (2008). "Substrate and Tool Use by Brown Capuchins in Suriname: Ecological Contexts and Cognitive Bases". American Anthropologist 102 (4): 741–761. .
- Life series. 2009. Episode 1. BBC.
- Valderrama, X. et al. (2000). "Seasonal Anointment with Millipedes in a Wild Primate: A Chemical Defense Against Insects?". Journal of Chemical Ecology 26 (12): 2781–2790. .
- Lineberry, C.. "Capuchin Monkeys, Spinal Cord Injuries, Volunteering, Trained Monkeys". AARP. http://www.aarp.org/makeadifference/volunteer/articles/monkey_do.html. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "Capuchin Monkeys at Animal Corner". http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/wildlife/monkeys/nwcapuchin.html. Retrieved 2012-06-25.