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Common marmoset
(Callithrix jacchus)
Scientific classification

The marmosets are a group of New World monkeys.[1][2] There are 22 marmoset species in four genera. All are in the biological family Callitrichidae. The term marmoset is also used in reference to the Goeldi's marmoset, Callimico goeldii, which is closely related.

Most marmosets are about 20 centimetres (8 in) long. Compared to other monkeys, they have some primitive features. They have claws rather than nails, they lack wisdom teeth, and their brain layout seems to be relatively primitive. Their body temperature is unusually variable, changing by up to 4 °C (7 °F) in a day.[3] Marmosets are native to South America and have been found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. They have also been spotted in Central America.[4]

Marmosets have germline chimerism. This is not known to occur in nature in any primates except this family.[5][6][7]

Marmosets are highly active, living in the upper canopy of forest trees, and feeding on insects, fruit and leaves. They have long lower incisors, which allow them to chew holes in tree trunks and branches to harvest the gum inside; some species are specialised feeders on gum.

Marmosets live in family groups of three to 15. There are one or two breeding females, an unrelated male, offspring and other family members and unrelated individuals. Their mating systems are highly variable and include monogamy, polygyny and occasionally polyandry.


  1. Groves C; Wilson D.E. and Reeder D.M. (eds) 2005. Mammal species of the world. 3rd ed, Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 129–133.

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    ISBN 0-801-88221-4
  2. Rylands AB and Mittermeier RA (2009). "The diversity of the New World primates (Platyrrhini)". In Garber PA. South American primates: comparative perspectives in the study of behavior, ecology, and conservation. Springer. pp. 23–54. ISBN 978-0-387-78704-6 . 
  3. Stafford, Grey 1999. Thermoregulatory and endocrine adaptations of small body size in primates. Kent State University Dissertation, QP 135.S73.
  4. Primate Info Net, Callithrix Factsheet, University of Wisconsin, Madison. [1]
  5. Ross C.N; French J.A. and Ortí G. (2007). "Germ-line chimerism and paternal care in marmosets (Callithrix kuhlii)". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104 (15): 6278–82. doi:10.1073/pnas.0607426104 . PMC 1851065 . PMID 17389380 . 
  6. Masahito Tachibana (2012). "Generation of chimeric rhesus monkeys". 
  7. Gengozian N; Batson J.S. & Eide P. (1964). "Hematologic and cytogenetic evidence for hematopoietic chimerism in the marmoset, Tamarinus nigricollis". Cytogenetics 10: 384–393.