Diet of the Sun Tailed Monkey

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Scientists are finding and naming 52 new species every day. You would think that they are only finding microbes and members of the lesser phyla while the mammals and reptiles are well accounted for. But new species of mammals are still being found at a rate of 40 a year. And what will surprise many is that they are even finding new species of monkeys, members of the same order to which humans belong - the primates.

The sun-tailed monkey was first discovered by scientists in the year 1984. They appear to be endemic to Gabon, in west central Africa. Their habitat seems to be limited to an area of 10,000 km², bounded by the rivers Ogooue, Lolo and Bouenguidi. This area is characterized by dense tropical rainforests. They are darkly colored, weigh 4-9 kg, and are named for the distinctive patch of flaming orange on the tip of their tails.

The first thing that people usually want to know about a newfound species is - what do they eat? Natural selection dictates that species settle down in a very specific niche in the food chain. In other words, they eat what they are best suited to find, hunt or gather.

The sun-tailed monkey's diet consists of fruit, vegetation, insects, and occasionally small scurrying mammals. It forages for its food in the dense vegetation of the forest floor. Indeed, scientists classify it as terrestrial, which means that it spent more time on the ground than it does on the trees.

Its preference is for insects and grasses, followed by fruits. Indeed, some scientists classify it as frugivorous (fruit eating). It also has a pouch in its cheeks where it stores food items while foraging.

The sun-tailed monkey forages long distances from its home. Its foraging activities are limited to 2 meters from the ground. For the same reason it tends to gather in logged and semi-logged where herbaceous vegetation and insects are plentiful. Areas of dense vegetation suit its cryptic nature.

Terrestriality also implies that the sun-tailed monkey is susceptible to poachers and trappers. When the monkey was first discovered it was already classified as “vulnerable". Apart from being hunted for meat, it is also threatened by habitat loss through logging and other activities.

Discovery of new species of monkeys is rare, and after the sun-tailed monkey none were discovered in Africa for a long time. Only in 2012 was discovered a further species (named Lesula) in the forests of Congo.

More about this author: Shaheen Daad

From Around the Web

  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://news.mongabay.com/2012/0119-hance_2009newspecies.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.arkive.org/sun-tailed-monkey/cercopithecus-solatus/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://uakari.tripod.com/cercopithecus_solatus.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.iucnredlist.org/details/4230/0
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/13/new-monkey-species-congo-lesula