Monday, July 1, 2013

Pygmy Marmoset - Dwarf Monkey

The tiniest of all the anthropoid apes...

The pygmy marmoset, also known as the dwarf monkey, is a little known inhabitant of the Upper Amazon basin.  This tiny creature is the smallest monkey in the world.  It is generally quite difficult to find or see 'em amongst the foliage of the tall jungle trees; discovering its whereabouts is a matter of purest chance, which partly explains why it is not a regular exhibit in zoos.  Not only are healthy specimens difficult to capture, they are also difficult to keep alive for longer than a few months and/or to keep healthy in a zoo for an extended amount of time.  This is not because they are naturally short-lived and unhealthy, but because attempts to artificially reconstruct their natural environment and provide exactly the right type of diet for them, usually fail.

In the trees, marmosets move more like squirrels than primates.  In some respects they present more primitive features than most primates.  For example, they have claws rather than nails on their fingers, they have a non-prehensile tail, and they produce litters of more than two.  Their diet is thought to consist of insects and very ripe fruit, though the larger marmosets probably eat buds and flowers as well.  Per Wikipedia, "This monkey has a specialized diet of tree gum.  It gnaws holes in the bark of appropriate trees and vines with its specialized dentition to elicit the production of gum. When the sap puddles up in the hole, it laps it up with its tongues. The dwarf monkey also lies in wait for insects, especially butterflies, which are attracted to the sap holes. It supplements its diet with nectar and fruit."

Pygmy marmosets are active during the day and sleep at night in a hole in a tree.  They live in pairs or in family units consisting of the parents and their offspring from several litters.  The feature which distinguishes the pygmy marmoset from other marmosets, is the absence of tufts of hair on the ears.  Its ears seem to disappear almost completely in its thick, silky fur, leaving its round eyes as the most prominent facial feature.  Its movements are somewhat jerky and disjointed, consisting of short, forward jumps as well as backward bounds.  Its call is a repetitious, short, shrill whoop.

Physical Description:  The pygmy marmoset/dwarf monkey is the smallest monkey on Earth, with a head-body length ranging from 4.6 to 6.0 inches and a tail of 6.8 to 9 inches. The average adult body weight is just over 3.5 ounces, with females generally a little heavier.  The fur color is a mixture of brownish-gold, grey, and black on its back and head and yellow, orange, and tawny on its underparts. Its tail has black rings and its face has flecks of white on its cheeks and a white vertical line between its eyes.

Image Source:  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/PhotoGallery/Primates/7.cfm

---End of Post "Pygmy Marmoset - Dwarf Monkey"

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