Friday Know Your Primates: Proboscis Monkey

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Suborder Anthropoidea
Infraorder Catarrhini
Superfamily Cercopithecoidea
Family Cercopithecidae
Subfamily Colobinae
Genus Nasalis
Species Nasalis concolor (simakobu)
Nasalis larvatus (proboscis monkey)
Today’s primate is the proboscis monkey. The Simakobu, Nasalis concoor, was originally considered to be in a separate genus (Simias to be exact) will be discussed in a future post.


The proboscis monkey is mainly known because of it’s rather large and funny looking nose (when I was a kid we used to call it the Jimmy Durante monkey). They are diurnal animals that live in mangrove swamps and are adept swimmers (even having webbing between the digits, they can swim up to 20 meters underwater). They are also excellent leapers. The proboscis monkey is also the most sexually dimorphic of the colobines. Males range from 16-22 kg and get up to 70 cm in length. Females range from 7-12 kg and get up to 60 cm in length. Like most colobines, they are mainly folivorous (but switch to mainly fruit for several months) and have the same adaptations to eating leaves that other colobines have (i.e. bacteria in the stomach to help digest cellulose). They live in multimale or unimale groups – the multimale groups have up to 20 members.
There is also a blog devoted to them called the Proboscis Monkey Blog, which, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to have been updated in awhile.
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As you can see from the above pictures, proboscis monkeys are magnificent looking animals, unfortunately, they are endangered due to habitat destruction…

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9 Responses

  1. Ah, cha cha cha chaaa…

  2. Ok, these Friday primates are cool, but really, what is the purpose of that nose? From the pictures it looks like the adolescent monkeys don’t exhibit the large nose?
    Inquiring minds want to know……
    I also want to thank you for your work on this site. Information found here has proved quite useful in provoking lengthy discussions in the intro anthropology class I am taking this quarter.

  3. It’s a resonance chamber to enhance vocalizations. There is actually a blog devoted to proboscis monkeys (see above for link).
    “Information found here has proved quite useful in provoking lengthy discussions in the intro anthropology class I am taking this quarter.”
    Damn! Really? I’m flattered…I hope some of the technical links on my blogroll help as well…

  4. “Information found here has proved quite useful in provoking lengthy discussions in the intro anthropology class I am taking this quarter.”

    Don’t let it go to your head! Teach the underpants controversy!!!

  5. Blaine – I forgot to ask, what textbook are you using in your intro class?
    DouglasG – I try but people seem to shy away from the controversy…

  6. Blaine – if you aren’t using Fleagle, try to find it at your local library. It’s a great source of information.
    Fleagle, J. G. (1999). Primate Adaptation and Evolution, 2nd Ed.. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

  7. Aferensis, I am using -
    Jurmain, R. Kilgore, L. Trevathan, W. (2005) Introduction to Physical Anthropology, 10th Ed., Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
    And, yes all of the technical links are a wonderful resource. With all of the anthropological goodness here, you are making it hard for this physics/math major to keep focused…..
    I am taking the intro anthro class because of this blog in particular and ScienceBlogs in gerneral. I have always been fascinated by primates and human origins and ya’all have re-stimulated that for me.
    Anyway, enough head swelling for you…….Get to writing up some posts already!!

  8. Blaine – Thanks for the feedback. I occasionally get feedback from instructors who make use of of some of the resources I’ve linked to, but you are the first student who has commented, so I was a little curious…

  9. I suppose the interesting thing that amazes me is the amount of information that anthropologists can get from what, to me, seems to be a few tiny scraps and fragments in the dirt.
    As I said, I am a physics major, and I suppose I am used to the concept of working out fundamental particles and forces from decay products.
    I guess its some of the same really, but the amount of time between us and our earlier hominin (sp?) ancestors seems a particular deep gulf to cross. Especially when we can discuss things like culture and imagine thinking beings who are not really that different from ourselves. Sort of like the first time I saw a video of a chimpanzee recognizing itself in a mirror…. very cool.
    The other fascinating idea from anthropology is the deep connections to so many human endevours. It seems like there is very little that we do that cannot be seen in some form by other primates to varying degrees. Those kind of insights really bring home to power of evolution through common descent.
    Moving on… I need to catch up on my reading, see what else is going on here.

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