Old world monkeys

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Old world monkeys
Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) and western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) (image from Detroit Zoo)

Drill ( Mandrillus leucophaeus ) and western gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla ) (image from Detroit Zoo )

Superordinate : Euarchontoglires
without rank: Euarchonta
Order : Primates (Primates)
Subordination : Dry- nosed primates (Haplorrhini)
Partial order : Monkey (anthropoidea)
without rank: Old world monkeys
Scientific name
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire , 1812

The old world monkeys or narrow-nosed monkeys (Catarrhini) form a family group of primates . This group includes all monkeys of the Old World (Eurasia and Africa). They are divided into the tailed old world monkeys (Cercopithecoidea) and the human (Hominoidea). Man also belongs to the latter .


The Old World monkeys have a narrow nasal septum with parallel nostrils pointing forward or downward. In addition, all species have a long, bony ear canal and only two premolars (front molars); the total number of their teeth is a maximum of 32 ( New World monkeys : a maximum of 36). Most species have callosities on the abdomen and , in contrast to the New World monkeys , the thumb is opposable , so it can be contrasted with the other fingers. The tail length is variable, but the tail of the Old World monkeys does not serve as a pronging tail. There are flat nails on the fingers and toes.

Old World monkeys are medium to large primates and, on average, larger than New World monkeys. The smallest representatives are the pygmy monkeys with 0.8 to 1.3 kilograms, while male gorillas can reach 200 kilograms.

Distribution and way of life

The old world monkeys are common in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa (but not Madagascar ) and Asia , with the exception of humans, which have reached global distribution . In Asia they are mainly represented in South and Southeast Asia , their distribution area extends to Japan and Timor . The only wild species in Europe is the Barbary Macaque on the Rock of Gibraltar , but this population was probably introduced by humans.

With the exception of humans, the habitat of the old world monkeys are predominantly forests and other tree-covered areas. In terms of their habitat, however, they are more flexible than the New World monkeys. There are also pronounced ground inhabitants such as the Jelada and some species that sometimes live in savannahs .

All Old World monkeys are diurnal. In most cases they have developed complex social behavior and live in pairs or groups. Old world monkeys mainly feed on plants, but they are omnivorous to varying degrees .


The sister group of the Old World monkeys are the New World monkeys or broad-nosed monkeys, which live in America and are characterized, among other things, by protruding nostrils. Together they form the monkey taxon (Anthropoidea or Simiiformes). Two recent superfamilies are distinguished within the Old World monkeys :

In addition, some extinct groups of Old World monkeys are known such as the Propliopithecidae (including the genera Propliopithecus and Aegyptopithecus ), the Pliopithecidae (including the genus Pliopithecus ) and Saadanius .

The following cladogram shows the likely relationships among Old World monkeys:

  Old world monkeys  

 Gibbons (Hylobatidae)


 Apes (Hominidae)

  Vervet monkey relatives  
  Cheek-puff monkey  

 Vervet monkeys (Cercopithecini)


 Macaque ( macaca )


 other baboons

  Colobus monkeys and colobus monkeys  

 Colobini monkeys


 Schlankaffen (Presbytini)

Template: Klade / Maintenance / Style


Individual evidence

  1. Jinchuan Xing, Hui Wang, Kyudong Han, David A. Ray, Cheney H. Huang, Leona G. Chemnick, Caro-Beth Stewart, Todd R. Disotell, Oliver A. Ryder, Mark A. Batzer 2005. A mobile element based phylogeny of Old World monkeys . Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37: 872-880, doi: 10.1016 / j.ympev.2005.04.015

Web links

Commons : Old World Monkeys  - Collection of images, videos and audio files