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A Barbary Macaque monkey (Macaca sylvanus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini


Approximate worldwide distribution of monkeys.
Worldwide range of monkeys.

Monkeys are arboreal mammals in the primate order. Apes are the descendants of Old World monkeys.[1] Monkeys are clever, social animals who are famous for climbing trees easily. Almost every monkey has a tail, even if it is very short.[2]

There are many different kinds of monkeys. The big distinction is between Old World monkeys and New World monkeys.

Some monkeys live in trees, others live on the ground. Different primate families eat fruit, leaves, insects, flowers, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, crabs or even other monkeys. They can be kept as pets but due to their high intelligence and advanced emotional needs are not suggested. Monkeys can live in forests, savannahs, deserts and even in snowy mountains, but they are most commonly found in rainforests, except for Australia and New Guinea.

A group of monkeys is called a "troop" of monkeys or a "tribe" of monkeys.

Some monkeys are very small, about 15 centimetres (6 in) long and 120 grams (4.2 oz) in weight, while other monkeys can be very big, about 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) long and 35 kilograms (77 lb) in weight.

Where they live

There are two groups of monkeys that live in different places: the New World Monkeys in South America and the Old World Monkeys from Africa and Asia.[3] New World Monkeys are often smaller than Old World Monkeys.[4] Monkeys have long arms and legs to help them swing from trees. Some monkeys' tails can wrap tightly around branches, almost like a "fifth limb".[4] This type of tail is prehensile. Most monkeys are arboreal (live in the trees), but some live on the ground.[3]

Smallest monkey

The smallest known monkey is the Pygmy Marmoset. It is about 14-16cm in size (without the tail). It weighs about 120 grams. It lives in the treetops of rainforests in Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. The largest known monkey is the Mandrill. It can grow to about 1 m in size. Adults weigh up to 35 kg. The monkeys often climb with the help of their tails.


The word monkey might have come from a popular German story, "Roman de Renart" (Reynard the Fox). In there, the name of the son of Martin the Ape is Moneke.[5]

As food

In Africa, monkeys can be sold as "bushmeat" (meat of wild animals).[6] Monkey brains are eaten in some parts of Africa, South Asia, and China.[7]


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