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Barbary Macaque[1]
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Macaca
Species: M. sylvanus
Binomial name
Macaca sylvanus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus) is a macaque with only a stub of a tail. Found in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco with a small, possibly introduced, population in Gibraltar, the Barbary Macaque is one of the best-known Old World monkey species. Besides humans, they are the only primates that live freely in Europe. Although the species is commonly referred to as the "Barbary Ape", the Barbary Macaque is a true monkey, not an ape.

Contents

Appearance

This monkey is yellowish-brown to grey with lighter undersides, growing to a maximum size of 75 cm (30 in) and 13 kg (29 lb). Its face is a dark pink and its tail is vestigial. The front limbs of this monkey are longer than its hind limbs. Females are somewhat smaller than males.

Ecology

Dwelling in forests of cedar, pine and oak, the Barbary Macaque may frequent elevations of 2,100 m (6,900 ft) or more. It is a diurnal animal, dividing its time more or less equally between arboreal and terrestrial territory. Mostly herbivorous, this monkey feeds on leaves, roots, and fruit, but will also eat insects. By day, the Barbary Macaque patrols a territory which may span several square kilometers; it peacefully co-exists with other primate species, sharing watering holes without incident. The Barbary Macaque moves about energetically on all fours, occasionally rising erect on its hind limbs to survey for threats.

Female Barbary macacque with young suckling at Mediterranean Steps, Gibraltar.

The Barbary Macaque is a gregarious monkey, forming mixed groups of several females and males; the troop of 10 to 30 individuals is matriarchal, with its hierarchy determined by lineage to the lead female. Unlike other macaques, the males participate in rearing the young; much time is spent playing and grooming with them. In this way, a strong social bond is formed between a male and his offspring, both the male's own and those of others in the troop. This may be a result of selectiveness on the part of the females, who seem to prefer highly parental males.

The mating season runs from November through March. After a gestation period of 147 to 192 days, typically one baby per female is born; twins are a rarity. The monkeys reach maturity at 3 to 4 years of age, and may live for 20 years or more.

Two Macaques grooming in the UK

Status

The habitat of the Barbary Macaque is under threat from increased logging activity; they are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List. Local farmers view the monkeys as pests, and engage in extermination of the species. Once common throughout northern Africa and southern Europe, there are estimated to be just 12,000 to 21,000 Barbary Macaques left[3].

Human use

Many of the mistaken ideas about human anatomy contained in the writings of Galen are apparently due to his use of these animals, the anthropoid available to him, in dissections. Strong cultural taboos of his time prevented his performing any actual dissections of human cadavers, even in his role as physician and teacher of physicians.

Gibraltar population

The last wild population in Europe is that of Gibraltar, which unlike that of North Africa is thriving. At present there are some 230 animals in five troops occupying the area of the Upper Rock, though occasional forays into the town may result in damages to personal property.

See also

References

  1. ^ Groves, C. (2005). Wilson, D. E., & Reeder, D. M.. ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 164. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3.  
  2. ^ Butynski, T. M., Cortes, J., Water, S., Fa, J., Hobbelink, M. E., van Lavieren, E., Belbachir, F., Cuzin, F., de Smet, K., Mouna, M., de Iongh, H., Menard, N. & Camperio-Ciani, A. (2008). Macaca sylvanus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 4 January 2009.
  3. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Barbary Macaque: Macaca sylvanus, GlobalTwitcher.com

External links

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