Capuchins

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Capuchins

Physical characteristics

Social behavior

Resources

Capuchins are New World monkeys characterized by a cap or crown patch of hair that resembles a hood, called a capuche, worn by Franciscan monks. Capuchins belong to the family Cebidae, which includes 58 species in 11 genera. The Cebidae is subdivided into six subfamilies that include night monkeys, squirrel monkeys, titis, sakis, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and the capuchins.

Monkeys in the family Cebidae are thin animals with long legs and a prehensile tail, which is muscular and can be used to help the animal in climbing and swinging through trees. Most of these New World monkeys, including capuchins, are active during the day and sleep at night. Capuchins are medium-sized animals with a body and legs that are evenly proportioned, and have fingers and toes with nails. The nostrils of New World monkeys are round and set far apart while those of the Old World monkeys are set close together.

Physical characteristics

There are five species of capuchin monkeys found in South America. The brown capuchin (Cebus apella ) lives in tropical and subtropical forests from Venezuela to Brazil. Capuchins are not found in the Andes Mountains along the western part of the continent. The brown capuchin has tufts of hair on the forehead and a dark cap which extends downward on his forehead into a triangle. Other distinctive markings of the brown capuchin are black sideburns, and a coarse coat that is usually paler on the abdomen, with black limbs. The hair on the face is sparser than the rest of the fur, and the facial skin is pale. The average weight is 6.5 lb (3 kg) for females and 9 lb (4 kg) for males.

The white-faced capuchin (C. capucinus ) is found in Central America from the southern region of Mexico, south into Colombia. White-faced capuchins

live in dry or wet forests, and in mangroves. The color of their fur is pale cream to white on their bellies and the upper parts of their arms and legs, with black fur on their backs and lower limbs. They have white fur on their faces and a black cap. Many older white-faced capuchins have a ruff (fringe) of hair on their foreheads and crowns. The average weight for males is 7.7 lb (3.5 kg) and 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) for females.

Weeper capuchins (C. nigrivittatus ) are found north of the Amazon river and north and east of the Rio Negro river in Brazil, the Guianas, and central Venezuela. Females weigh less than 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) and males weigh around 6.5 lb (3 kg). Their colorings are like the white-faced capuchins but there is less contrast between the dark and light colors. They have a narrow crown patch that comes to a marked point on their foreheads. They also live in dry and wet forests and mangroves as do the white-faced capuchin.

The white-fronted capuchin (C. albifrons ) is found in the moist forests of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and on the island of Trinidad. This species is slightly smaller than other capuchin monkeys. The colors are similar to weeper and white-faced capuchins, with a pale and broad cap that covers most of the tops of their heads.

The most recently recognized species of capuchin, the yellow-breasted capuchin (C. xanthosternos ), was elevated to full species status in 1997. It was formerly considered a subspecies of C. apella. This capuchin is found only in the Atlantic Forest region of eastern Brazil. The yellow-breasted capuchin has a distinctive yellow to golden red chest, belly and upper arms. Its face is a light brown and its cap is either dark brown/black or light brown. Males are slightly larger than females. This species is considered critically endangered because it has a very restricted range, a fragmented habitat, and it is heavily hunted.

Capuchins are capable of running on two legs, as well as on all fours. They are very nimble and acrobatic in the treetops. The use of the tail as a fifth limb in capuchins is rather restricted. They do not spend all their time in trees, however, since they also find food on the forest floor. Fruit comprises 80% of capuchins diet, the rest consisting mainly of leaves and insects. In laboratory studies capuchins will use tools to help them get food.

KEY TERMS

Cebidae The family of New World primates to which capuchin monkeys belong.

Cebus The genus classification for capuchin monkeys.

Polygamous Mating with more than one member of the opposite sex.

Prehensile The ability to grasp, such as possible with the thumb and fingers or with the tail of a primate.

Social behavior

The social groups of capuchin monkeys vary in size from small groups with three members, to groups of 30 or more. There are usually more females in the group than males, and half of the members of these social groups are infants and adolescents. While there is a dominant male and female in each group, there is little evidence of any other hierarchy within the group, except that dominant males exhibit different degrees of tolerance among the various members of the group. This is particularly evident when the group is foraging for food.

The dominant male does not mingle much with other members of the group, but does play a role in defending the group from intruders. The dominant female establishes a special relationship with the dominant male and tries to keep others away from him.

Capuchins are polygamous, and it is the females who do the courting. Their methods of luring males include raising their eyebrows, gesturing, and making sounds. If a male is interested, he will mimic her gestures and sounds, follow her, and mate. Females give birth to one infant at a time, about every two years. Gestation is about five months, and infants are completely dependent on their mothers during the first three weeks of life.

Pastime activities among capuchins differ by age and gender. During the first few months, sisters especially take an interest in an infant sibling. After the third month after birth, the infant will also seek out the company of younger members of the group. A main social activity of male capuchins includes fighting games, while females spend a good deal of time sitting close together and in mutual grooming, particularly those parts of their bodies which are hard to reach or which they cannot see. Relationships among capuchins extend not only to siblings and their mothers, but to other relatives within the group as well.

Resources

BOOKS

Fragaszy, Dorothy M., Elisabetta Visalberghi, and Linda M. Fedigan. The Complete Capuchin: The Biology of the Genus Cebus. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Loy, James, and Calvin B. Peters. Understanding Behavior: What Primate Studies Tell Us about Human Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Mason, William A., and Sally P. Mendoza. Primate Social Conflict. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walkers Mammals of the World. 6th ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Vita Richman

Capuchins

views updated

Capuchins

Capuchins are New World monkeys characterized by a cap or crown patch of hair that resembles a hood, called a capuche, worn by Franciscan monks. Capuchins belong to the family Cebidae, which includes 31 species in 11 genera. The Cebidae is subdivided into seven subfamilies which include night monkeys , squirrel monkeys, titis, sakis, howlers, spider monkeys , and the capuchins.

Monkeys in the family Cebidae are thin animals with long legs and a prehensile tail, which is muscular and can be used to help the animal in climbing and swinging through trees. Most of these New World monkeys, including capuchins, are active during the day and sleep at night. Capuchins are medium-sized animals with a body and legs that are evenly proportioned, and have fingers and toes with nails. The nostrils of New World monkeys are round and set far apart while those of the Old World monkeys are set close together.


Physical characteristics

There are four species of capuchin monkeys found in South America . The brown capuchin (Cebus apella) lives in tropical and subtropical forests from Venezuela to Brazil. Capuchins are not found in the Andes Mountains along the western part of the continent . The brown capuchin has tufts of hair on the forehead and a dark cap which extends downward on his forehead into a triangle. Other distinctive markings of the brown capuchin are black sideburns, and a coarse coat that is usually paler on the abdomen, with black limbs. The hair on the face is sparser than the rest of the fur, and the facial skin is pale. The average weight is 6 lb (3 kg) for females and 8 lb (4 kg) for males.

The white-faced capuchin (C.capucinus) is found in Central America from the southern region of Mexico, south into Colombia. White-faced capuchins live in dry or wet forests, and in mangroves. The color of their fur is pale cream to white on their bellies and the upper parts of their arms and legs, with black fur on their backs and lower limbs. They have white fur on their faces and a black cap. Many older white-faced capuchins have a ruff (fringe) of hair on their foreheads and crowns. The average weight for males is 7 lb (3.5 kg) and 5 lb (2.5 kg) for females.

Weeper capuchins (C. nigrivittatus) are found north of the Amazon and north and east of the Rio Negro in Brazil, the Guianas, and central Venezuela. Females weigh less than 5 lb (2.5 kg) and males weigh around 6 lb (3 kg). Their colorings are like the white-faced capuchins but there is less contrast between the dark and light colors. They have a narrow crown patch that comes to a marked point on their foreheads. They also live in dry and wet forests and mangroves as do the white-faced capuchin.

The white-fronted capuchin (C. albifrons) is found in the moist forests of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and on the island of Trinidad. This species is slightly smaller than other capuchin monkeys. The colors are similar to weeper and white-faced capuchins, with a pale and broad cap that covers most of the tops of their heads.

Capuchins are capable of running on two legs, as well as on all fours. They are very nimble and acrobatic in the treetops. The use of the tail as a fifth limb in capuchins is rather restricted. They do not spend all their time in trees, however, since they also find food on the forest floor. Fruit comprises 80% of capuchins' diet, the rest consisting mainly of leaves and insects . In laboratory studies capuchins will use tools to help them get food.


Social behavior

The social groups of capuchin monkeys vary in size from small groups with three members, to groups of 30 or more. There are usually more females in the group than males, and half of the members of these social groups are infants and adolescents. While there is a dominant male and female in each group, there is little evidence of any other hierarchy within the group, except that dominant males exhibit different degrees of tolerance among the various members of the group. This is particularly evident when the group is foraging for food.

The dominant male does not mingle much with other members of the group, but does play a role in defending the group from intruders. The dominant female establishes a special relationship with the dominant male and tries to keep others away from him.

Capuchins are polygamous, and it is the females who do the courting. Their methods of luring males include raising their eyebrows, gesturing, and making sounds. If a male is interested, he will mimic her gestures and sounds, follow her, and mate. Females give birth to one infant at a time, about every two years. Gestation is about five months, and infants are completely dependent on their mothers during the first three weeks of life.

Pastime activities among capuchins differ by age and gender. During the first few months, sisters especially take an interest in an infant sibling. After the third month of birth, the infant will also seek out the company of younger members of the group. A main social activity of male capuchins includes fighting games, while females spend a good deal of time sitting close together and in mutual grooming, particularly those parts of their bodies which are hard to reach or which they cannot see. Relationships among capuchins extend not only to siblings and their mothers, but to other relatives within the group as well.


Resources

books

Loy, James, and Calvin B. Peters. Understanding Behavior: What Primate Studies Tell Us about Human Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Mason, William A., and Sally P. Mendoza. Primate Social Conflict. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.


Vita Richman

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cebidae

—The family of New World primates to which capuchin monkeys belong.

Cebus

—The genus classification for capuchin monkeys.

Polygamous

—Mating with more than one member of the opposite sex.

Prehensile

—The ability to grasp, such as possible with the thumb and fingers or with the tail of a primate.

Capuchin

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Cap·u·chin / ˈkap(y)əshən; kəˈp(y)oō-/ • n. 1. a friar belonging to a strict branch of the Franciscan order. 2. a cloak and hood formerly worn by women. 3. (capuchin or capuchin monkey) a South American monkey (genus Cebus) with a cap of hair on the head that has the appearance of a cowl.

Capuchins

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Capuchins (officially Friars Minor of St Francis Capuchin, O.F.M.Cap.) Roman Catholic religious order, founded in 1525 as an offshoot of the Franciscans. Capuchins are so-called because of the pointed cowl (capuche), which forms part of their habit. They re-emphasized Franciscan ideals of poverty and austerity, and played an important role in the Counter-Reformation through their missionary activities.

Capuchins

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Capuchins. Reformed branch of the Christian Franciscan order. In 1525, Matteo da Bascio (1495–1552) sought to return to the greater simplicity of the early Franciscans. He wore the pointed cowl or hood (capuce, hence the name) of St Francis, and he and his companions devoted themselves to care of plague victims.

Capuchin

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Capuchin a friar belonging to a branch of the Franciscan order that observes a strict rule drawn up in 1529. The name is recorded from the late 16th century, and comes via obsolete French from Italian cappuccino, from cappuccio ‘hood, cowl’, from cappa ‘covering for the head’, the friars being so named because of their sharp-pointed hoods.

capuchin

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capuchin Small diurnal monkey found in South and Central America. It is generally brown or black and is a tree-dweller. Omnivorous, but preferring fruit, it may grow to 55cm (22in) with a furry, prehensile tail of similar length. Family Cebidae.

capuchin

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capuchin (C-) Franciscan friar of the new order of 1528 XVI; woman's hooded cloak XVIII. — F. (now capucin) — It. cappuccino, f. cappuccio hood, augm. of cappa CAPE 1; so named from the pointed hood adopted by the order.