Monkey Facts
Monkey Facts

60 interesting Monkey Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published May 23, 2017Updated August 15, 2019
  • Monkeys can understand written numbers and can even count. They can also understand basic parts of arithmetic and even, in rare cases, multiplication.[12]
  • To attract a female partner, male capuchin monkeys will urinate in their hands and then rub it thoroughly into their fur.[13]
  • The origins of the word "monkey" are unclear. It appears also to be related to manikin, from the Dutch manneken ("little man"). It could also be derived from the name of a popular medieval beast story  in which the son of an ape is named "Moneke."[16]
  • A Colombian woman claimed that she was raised by a colony of capuchin monkeys after being kidnapped and abandoned in the jungle when she was just 4 years old.[28]
  • Raw and cooked brain of dead monkey is widely consumed in China and Malaysia.[6]
  • Scientists observed female monkeys teaching their young how to floss their teeth.[8]
  • Interesting Pygmy MarmosetFact
    Though small, pygmy marmosets can leap 15 feet into the air
  • The smallest monkey in the world is the pygmy marmoset, with a body as little as 5 inches (12 cm) and a tail length of about 7 inches (17 cm). As a comparison, they are about the size of a hamster, can fit in the palm of a human hand, and they weigh the same as a pack of cards.[17]
  • The most recently discovered monkey is the lesula monkey. It was discovered in 2007 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa.[22]
  • Diseases that can spread from monkey to humans include Ebola Reston, B virus (Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1), monkey pox, yellow fever, simian immunodeficiency virus, tuberculosis, and other diseases not yet known or identified.[5]
  • "Uncle Fat" is a morbidly obese monkey in Thailand who gorged himself on junk food and soda that tourists had left behind. As the leader of his troop, this gluttonous monkey also had subordinate monkeys bringing him goodies.[18]
  • Apes, gibbons, lemurs, and chimpanzees are not scientifically classified as monkeys. They are all primates, but, like humans, they have a different classification to monkeys.[21]
  • An abandoned medical research facility called the New York Blood Center used wild chimpanzees in its vaccination research in the 1970s. When the research facility shut down in 2005, the 66 remaining chimps were set free on a small land mass soon dubbed "Monkey Island."[19]
  • At the tip of a monkey's tail is a patch of bare skin that acts similar to a human's fingertips. It is sensitive to touch and also has tiny ridges that gives the tail a better grip.[15]
  • In Hindu, Hanuman ("disfigured jaw") is a human-like monkey god who commanded a monkey army. Interestingly, women were not allowed to worship the monkey god.[7]
  • Monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey.

    - Malcolm de Chazal

  • Monkeys that live in Central and South America are called "New World monkeys." Monkeys that live in Africa and Asia are called "Old World monkeys."[15]
  • Contrary to popular opinion, humans did not come from monkeys. Rather, humans and monkeys share a common ancestor 25-30 million years ago and then evolved from this animal in various different ways.[7]
  • Old World Monkeys have narrow noses that point down, don't hang in trees, are larger, don't have prehensile tails, and have strange sitting pads on their bottoms. New World monkeys have flatter noses, live in trees, and have prehensile tails.[7]
  • The female spider monkey has the longest tail of all the primates. Even though its body is only 2 feet long, its tail can reach 3 feet in length. Their tails can carry the the monkey's entire body weight and even pick up items as small as peanut.[7]
  • Mandrill monkeys have fangs that are longer than a lion's fangs. They also have multi-colored bottoms which makes them easier to see in the leafy gloom of the forest.[7]
  • Interesting Patas Monkey Fact
    Patas monkeys are the fastest runners among the primates
  • The fastest primate on Earth is the patas monkey. It can reach speeds of 34 miles per hour (55 km/h).[7]
  • The uakari is one of the rarest and most unusual-looking of all the New World monkeys. While it looks similar to an orangutan, its face is pink, which often turns bright red when the animal becomes excited or angry. It also makes a noise similar to a human laughing.[20]
  • While monkeys and apes are related, they are very different from each other. Monkeys have tails, have snouts, and they are not as intelligent as apes. Additionally, apes are not found in North or South America or Europe, while monkeys are.[11]
  • The owl monkey (night monkey) is the only nocturnal New World monkey. They are also one of the few monkey species affected by malaria, which means they have been used in non-human primate malaria experiments.[20]
  • Africa's Namib Desert is home to the chacma baboons. One hardy chacma baboon troop survived 116 days without water in the desert by eating figs.[11]
  • The only wild monkey in Europe is the tailless Barbary macaque, which is found in parts of Northern Africa and the British territory of Gibraltar.[11]
  • The first primate in space was a rhesus macaque named Albert. On June 14, 1949, Albert was sent into space to test the effects of space travel on a body. While he survived the flight, he died when the rocket parachute failed.[7]
  • The Japanese macaque is the northernmost monkey and is capable of living in more than 3 feet of snow in as temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius).[11]
  • The largest monkey in the world is the male mandrill. It is almost 1 meter (3.3 feet) long and weighs about 35 kilograms (77 pounds).[21]
  • Interesting Mandrill Fact
    Male mandrills have much brighter faces than females do

  • The ancient Egyptians considered the Hamadryas Baboon to be sacred. One of their gods, Thoth was regularly drawn as a man with the head of this baboon.[7]
  • The monkey is the 9th animal in the Chinese zodiac. People born in a year of the monkey are supposedly intelligent, lively, and creative, but might also be selfish and impatient.[7]
  • The capuchin monkey is the most common and the most intelligent of the New World monkeys.[20]
  • The spider monkey is the most acrobatic of the New World monkeys, and it has been know to leap across gaps as large as 35 feet.[20]
  • Monkeys are found almost everywhere on Earth, except for Australia and Antarctica.[11]
  • The Diana monkey was named for the Roman goddess of hunting because the stripe on its forehead resembles Diana bow.[11]
  • The male howler monkey has the loudest call of any other primate and is one of the loudest animals in the world. Interestingly, the louder the howler monkey, the smaller its testicles and the lower its sperm count.[7][23]
  • Interesting Howler Monkey Fact
    A howler monkey's howl can travel three miles through dense rainforest.

  • Capuchin monkeys are named after the 16th-century monks because the monkey's hair resembles the monks' hooded robes.[11]
  • Monkeys are long-lived, surviving in the wild anywhere between 10 and 50 years.[11]
  • Ethiopian geladas form the largest monkey troops in the world, numbering from 350 to 650 individuals.[11]
  • Baboons have a "language" of more than 30 sounds. They communicate through actions such as shrugging and lip smacking, too.[11]
  • Picking out parasites and dirts from each others' furs is a way for monkeys to communicate, form social hierarchies, and strengthen family and friendship bonds.[11]
  • Found only in the Chinese province of Yunnan, the black snub-nosed monkey lives at the higest altitudes, near 15,000 feet  (4,572 m) of any primate.[11]
  • A group of monkeys is variously called a troop, barrel, carload, cartload, or tribe."[21]
  • Amazing Monkey Fact
    A group of monkeys is called a troop or a barrel

  • To identify themselves more easily, squirrel monkeys will smear food on their tails, much like how humans may wear name tags.[11]
  • Due to the loss of trees in their native habitat, only about 1,500 golden lion tamarins exist in the wild.[11]
  • Each year, about 55,000 primates are used as test animals in the U.S., and about 10,000 are used in Great Britain. Japan uses millions of primates.[11]
  • When researchers offered the Japanese macaque sweet potatoes during research in the 1940s, the monkeys didn't like the taste of the dirt on the veggies, so they washed it off. Now, generations later, washing food has become a learned behavior. No other monkeys in the world are known to wash their food before eating.[11]
  • HIV was created in the stomach of a chimp who had eaten two different types of monkeys that had two different viruses.  The two viruses combined to form a hybrid virus, which then spread through the chimp species, and then later was transmitted to humans.[29]
  • Weird Monkey Fact
    Nature's cologne
  • White-faced capuchin monkeys rub their fur with the Giant African Millipedes, which acts as a form of insect repellent.[7]
  • On the Yakushima island Japan, monkeys groom and share food with deer in exchange for a ride.[2]
  • After weeks of training, rhesus monkeys learned to recognize themselves in a mirror. The first thing they did was to promptly examined their genitals, every intimate nook and cranny.[10]
  • The "Monkey Orchid" is a flower that has evolved to look like the grinning face of a monkey. Ironically, instead of smelling like bananas, it smells like a ripe orange.[24]
  • Alexander I, the king of Greece, died from sepsis after being bit by one of his pet monkeys. His death led to a war that killed over 100,000 people.[25]
  • A recently discovered monkey, the Burmese sneezing monkey, sneezes whenever it rains.[26]
  • A group of 15 captive monkeys at a primate research institute in Japan used tree branches to fling themselves over a high voltage electric fence. They were later lured back to the research center with peanuts.[9]
  • To prove that children need a mother's love, scientist Harry Harlow subjected baby monkeys to horrific experiments in what was called the "The Pit of Despair" in which he isolated and tortured baby monkeys.[27]
  • Little Known Monkey Fact
    An outstanding 'stache
  • The mustached emperor tamarin is believed to have been named for German Emperor Wilhelm II. Both have impressive mustaches.[11]
  • French surgeon Serge Voronoff (1866-1951) gained notoriety when he grafted monkey testicles into the the scrotum of human patients in an attempt to cure infertility and increase their sex drive.[1]
  • A 22-year-old primate researcher at Emory died after a rhesus monkey infected with the herpes B virus threw a tiny drop of fluid, mostly likely from  urine or feces, at her face as she was transporting the animal.[4]
  • Italian Professor Sergio Canavero claimed to have conducted the first monkey head transplant without any neurological injury to the animal. However, he did not connect the spinal cord, so the monkey was completely paralyzed. It was only kept alive for only 20 hours after the procedure for ethical reasons.[14]
  • The scientific name for a gorilla is Gorilla gorilla gorilla.[3]

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