New World Monkeys: Exploring the Fascinating Primates of the Americas

New World Monkeys, or platyrrhine primates, are a diverse group of primates found exclusively in the Americas. In this article, we will take a closer look at these fascinating animals, exploring their families, dental formula, lower classifications, habitat, and unique traits. We will also delve into some interesting facts about these primates, including their weight, color vision, and tail abilities.

Some examples of Old World Monkeys are:

  1. Baboons
  2. Macaques
  3. Mandrills
  4. Colobus Monkeys
  5. Langurs
  6. Proboscis Monkeys
  7. Guenons
  8. Talapoins

Some examples of New World Monkeys are:

  1. Howler Monkeys
  2. Spider Monkeys
  3. Titi Monkeys
  4. Squirrel Monkeys
  5. Marmosets
  6. Capuchin Monkeys
  7. Tamarins
  8. Owl Monkeys

New World Monkey Families

New World Monkeys are divided into five families: Callitrichidae, Cebidae, Aotidae, Pitheciidae, and Atelidae.

  • Callitrichidae, or the marmosets and tamarins, are the smallest of the New World Monkeys and are known for their claw-like nails.
  • Cebidae, or the capuchin and squirrel monkeys, are some of the most intelligent primates in the world.
  • Aotidae, or the night monkeys, are the only nocturnal monkeys in the New World.
  • Pitheciidae, or the titi, saki, and uakari monkeys, have unique faces and are adapted to eat hard seeds.
  • Atelidae, or the howler, spider, and woolly monkeys, are known for their prehensile tails.

Old World Monkey families

Old World Monkeys (OWMs) are a diverse group of primates belonging to the family Cercopithecidae. This family is further divided into two subfamilies:

Colobinae (leaf-eating monkeys) and Cercopithecinae (cheek-pouch monkeys). The following are the major Old World Monkey families:


  • Colobus monkeys
  • Langurs
  • Leaf monkeys
  • Odd-nosed monkeys


  • Baboons
  • Macaques
  • Guenons
  • Vervet monkeys
  • Talapoins
  • Gelada baboons
  • Mandrills

Some taxonomists also include the subfamily Rhinopithecinae, which includes the proboscis monkey and the douc langurs, in the family Cercopithecidae.

New World Monkey Dental Formula

New World Monkeys have a dental formula of, which means they have two incisors, one canine, three premolars, and three molars on each side of their jaws. This is different from the Old-World Monkeys, which have a dental formula of The dental formula of New World Monkeys reflects their adaptation to a primarily vegetarian diet.

New World Monkey Lower Classifications

New World Monkeys are further classified into 17 genera and 138 species. Some of the most well-known New World Monkeys include the capuchin monkey, spider monkey, howler monkey, and marmoset.

Old World Monkey vs New World Monkey

Old World Monkeys New World Monkeys
Distribution Africa, Asia Central/South America
Dental formula
Tail Generally non-prehensile Prehensile (in some families)
Nocturnal species Yes Yes (in some families)
Color vision Generally trichromatic Typically, dichromatic or monochromatic
Male color blindness Rare Common (except howler monkeys)
Size range Small to large Small to medium
Brain to body size ratio Relatively smaller Relatively larger
Social structure Varied (solitary to complex) Varied (solitary to complex)
Habitat Varied (forests, savannas) Varied (forests, savannas)
Lower classifications Cercopithecinae, Colobinae Callitrichidae, Cebidae, Aotidae, Pitheciidae, Atelidae

One of the main differences between Old World Monkeys and New World Monkeys is their geographic distribution. Old World Monkeys are found in Africa and Asia, while New World Monkeys are found exclusively in the Americas. Another difference is their tail structure. While some Old World Monkeys have tails, they are not prehensile like the tails of New World Monkeys.

New World Monkey Habitat

New World Monkeys are found in a variety of habitats, including tropical rainforests, dry forests, savannas, and mountains. They are adapted to their specific habitats and have developed unique physical and behavioral traits to help them survive.

Trait that Old World Monkey has that New World Monkey May Not Have

One trait that Old World Monkeys have that New World Monkeys may not have is ischial callosities, which are toughened areas of skin on their buttocks. These callosities help Old World Monkeys sit on hard surfaces for extended periods of time.

Nocturnal New World Monkey

The Aotidae family, or the night monkeys, are the only nocturnal monkeys in the New World. They have large eyes to help them see in low light conditions and are known for their distinctive vocalizations.

Why Are Males of All New World Monkey Species Either Red or Green Colorblind Except Howler Monkeys?

Most New World Monkeys, including males, are red-green colorblind, which means they cannot distinguish between shades of red and green. However, howler monkeys have a unique mutation that allows them to see these colors. This may be related to their diet, which includes a significant amount of red leaves.

How Much Do New World Monkeys Weigh?

New World Monkeys vary in size and weight, with the smallest marmosets and tamarins weighing around 100 grams, and the largest howler monkeys weighing up to 10 kilograms. Generally, New World Monkeys are smaller than Old World Monkeys.

Which New World Monkey Has a Prehensile Tail?

The Atelidae family, or the howler, spider, and woolly monkeys, are known for their prehensile tails. This means that their tails can be used like an extra hand to grip branches and other objects.

Which New World Monkey Has a Large Brain to Body Size?

New World Monkeys have relatively large brains for their body size, but the capuchin monkey has one of the largest brain to body size ratios of any primate. This is thought to contribute to their high level of intelligence and problem-solving abilities.

In conclusion, New World Monkeys are a diverse group of primates that are adapted to a range of habitats and have developed unique physical and behavioral traits to help them survive. Their dental formula, lower classifications, and distribution distinguish them from Old World Monkeys.

Some interesting facts about New World Monkeys include their color vision, weight, and tail abilities. By studying these fascinating animals, we can gain a better understanding of the evolution and diversity of primates.

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