Know Your Primate: Ateles paniscus

Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini
Family: Atelidae
Subfamily: Atelinae
Genus: Ateles
Species: Ateles paniscus
Common Name: Black spider monkey
Currently, Ateles is composed of six-seven allopatric species. The black spider monkey lives in Central and South America. They are large monkeys, weighing 15-19 pounds, that have a long, prehensile tail.

The black spider monkey displays little to no sexual dimorphism and the females have a long clitoris – which is often mistaken for a penis. Primary residence is in the upper canopy of primary rain forests. Locomotion ranges from arboreal quadrupedalism to brachiation – consequently they often group with gibbons in morphometric analyses.
The black spider monkey lives in fision-fusion groups (much like chimps) of up to 100 individuals, although typical group size is from 2-30 individuals. They eat ripe fruit and are occasionally observed eating large amounts of leaves.
In the wild the black spider monkey has been known to break off dead branches that weigh up to 11 pounds and drop them on approachers.

2 Responses

  1. “known to break off dead branches that weigh up to 11 pounds and drop them on approachers.” These guys are making a good run for my favourite monkey

  2. I’ve had a nice 4-5 foot chunk of branch fall about 6 inches in front of my face by the delicate hand of this guys’ cousin, Ateles geoffroyi.
    Moral of the story: always go in twos when studying Ateles, you may need somebody to run for help.

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