Written by Maci

Modified & Updated: 10 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

monkey with open mouth, monkey facts

Some monkeys are small. There are big monkeys. Some have interestingly colored fur. But what does it all mean? Monkey facts will help you know! Here are some cheeky monkey facts that will tell you everything you need to know about them.

  1. Monkeys are omnivores.
  2. The scientific name for the gorilla is Gorilla beringei.
  3. The first monkey head transplant resulted in the monkey’s death after 20 hours.
  4. The moustached emperor tamarin monkey’s namesake is the German Emperor Wilhelm II.
  5. Monkeys are as smart as a toddler.
  1. An Italian Professor conducted the first-ever monkey head transplant without neurological injury.
  2. You can get sick if a monkey throws its feces in your face.
  3. The testicles of monkeys were once grafted onto the scrotum of humans to increase their sex drive and cure infertility.
  4. Baby monkeys were once subjected to isolation and torture experiments to prove that children need a mother’s love.
  5. A group of monkeys once escaped a Japanese research institute by flinging themselves over an electrical fence.
  6. Alexander the First died from sepsis after a monkey bit him.
  7. The Monkey Orchid is a flower that resembles the face of a grinning monkey.
  8. People consume the brains of dead monkeys raw or cooked in Malaysia and China.
  9. Female monkeys teach their young how to floss their teeth.
  10. No one is sure where the word monkey originated from.
  1. The Burmese sneezing monkey always sneezes whenever it rains.
  2. Orangutans are the world’s most intelligent animals.
  3. Rhesus monkeys can recognize themselves in the mirror.
  4. The Monkey Orchid smells more like oranges than bananas.
  5. Male capuchin monkeys attract females by rubbing their urine into their fur.
Table of Contents

Monkeys can count.

These creatures can understand written numbers as well. In rare cases, some monkeys are even able to do basic arithmetic and even multiplication.

monkey waving, monkey facts
Photo by Syed Ahmad on Unsplash

Apes, lemurs, gibbons, and chimpanzees are not classified as monkeys.

Scientifically, they are all primates. However, much like the human species, they have a different classification of monkeys. Almost all species of monkeys have tails, yet apes do not.

A woman from Columbia claims that monkeys raised her.

The woman claims that after her kidnapping and abandonment in the jungle at the age of 4, a group of wild capuchin monkeys adopted her. Marina Chapman is widely known for this claim, yet there is no evidence to prove this.  Could we have found our real-life Tarzan?

The tip of a monkey’s tail has a patch of bare skin.

This part of the tail acts similarly to that of a human’s fingertip. This tip is sensitive to touch and has tiny ridges that allow for a better grip. A monkey’s tail helps them with stability while climbing trees or jumping.

People call an overly obese monkey in Thailand 'Uncle Fat'.

This monkey has overfed itself with junk food and soda left by tourists. This monkey is also known as the leader of its group and makes his subordinates bring him food.

Scientists discovered the lesula monkey in 2007.

This species of monkey is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. The lesula possesses a human-looking nose and is highly social beings.

Monkeys can spread diseases to humans.

The list of diseases that monkeys can spread to our species include the B virus, monkeypox, yellow fever, and other unidentified illnesses. You can also catch Ebola Reston from a monkey that may have it.

The pygmy marmoset is the smallest known monkey in the world. 

Its body generally sizes up to 5 inches tall and a tail length of 7 inches. You can compare their size to that of a hamster that fits in the palm of your hand. These monkeys weigh as much as a deck of cards.

Mandrill monkeys have fangs longer than a lion’s.

mandrill, monkey facts
Photo from Pixabay

These monkeys also have colourful bottoms that make them easy to detect in leafy surroundings. These monkeys are also one of two species that are in the genus Mandrillus.  They are also commonly found in Southern Cameroon. They mostly live in tropical forests.

The primate with the longest tail is the female spider monkey.

Despite its body only being 2 feet long, its tail spans up to 3 feet in length. Their tails are also capable of carrying their entire body weight.  Their tails are also able to pick up objects that are as small as a peanut.

Humans did not come from monkeys.

To be more precise, humans and monkeys had a common ancestor from 25-30 million years ago. From then, each species evolved differently.

There is a human-like monkey god in Hinduism. 

Hanuman was a god that commanded a monkey army. However, women were not allowed to worship this god.  This god is the central character in the epic of Ramanaya. He is often described as the son of Pawan and is famous for his great strength and loyalty.

Patas monkeys are the fastest primates on the planet.

These monkeys can run at speeds of 34 mph. These monkeys are also known as the wadi monkey or hussar monkey. They are commonly found around the areas of West Africa and parts of East Africa.

Patas monkey, monkey facts
Photo by Crusier on Wikimedia Commons

Monkeys as classified as either a new world or old world monkeys.

Monkeys that live in Central and South America are New World Monkeys. On the other hand, those found in Asia and Africa are Old World Monkeys.

Old world monkeys had narrow noses that pointed down.

Compared to the monkeys we are familiar with today, these monkeys did not hang around in trees. They also were significantly larger than the monkeys of today. They also did not have prehensile tails.

Chimpanzees were once used for vaccination research during the 1970s.

The research was in a now-abandoned research facility known as the New York Blood Center. When the research closed down in 2005, the remaining chimps were set free. They occupied a small landmass that was later dubbed as monkey island.

One of the rarest and unique looking monkeys in the world is the uakari.

They look quite similar to the orangutan but their faces are pink. Often, they will turn a bright red when they become angry or get excited. They are also known to make noises that sound similar to human laughter.

Uakari monkey, rarest monkey, monkey facts
Photo by Evgenia Kononova on Wikimedia Commons

The owl monkey is better remembered as the night monkey.

These monkeys are the only known nocturnal New World monkeys. They are also among the few monkeys that can have malaria.  This indicates that scientists used them for experiments regarding the illness.

The rhesus macaque was the first monkey to be in space.

The monkey, Albert, tested the effects of space travel on a body. Albert survived the experiment, yet passed away during the rocket’s parachute failure.

Monkeys and apes have relations but are not the same.

Monkeys have tails on their bodies. They also have snouts and are less intelligent. Apes do not have tails and are more intelligent. Additionally, apes are not found in North America and Europe.

The male mandrill is the largest monkey in the world.

These monkeys grow up to 1 meter long. They also weigh around 35kg on average. This primate is also a member of the Old World family.

There is only one wild monkey found in Europe.

This is the tailless Barbary macaque. They are normally found in parts of Northern Africa and the British territory of Gibraltar. These monkeys are also known as the Barbary ape or maggot.

The chacma baboons live in Africa’s Namib desert.

According to research, a group of chacma baboons once survived 116 days in the desert without any water. They survived solely by eating figs they found.

Japanese macaques are capable of living in extremely cold environments.

macaque, monkey facts
Photo from Pixabay

These monkeys are more than capable of living within temperatures lower than 5 degrees Celsius. They are in the northernmost parts of Japan.  Some are even found in towns rich in natural hot springs.

The monkey is the 9th Chinese zodiac sign.

People believe that those born during the year of the monkey are lively and intelligent. They are also said to be creative yet very impatient.

Monkeys are almost everywhere on the planet.

The only places where you won’t find them are the Antarctic and in Australia. A theory suggests it is due to the geological movement that took place over 175 million years ago. While Australia and Asia are relatively close, they have not been close since the separation of Pangaea long ago.

Spider monkeys are the most acrobatic of all monkey species.

They are the most acrobatic amongst the New World monkeys. They can leap over gaps as large as 35 feet wide. Spider monkeys eat while they climb or hang which is most probably how it got its name.

Monkeys live for a long time.

Generally, most monkeys can survive in the wild for over 30-50 years. However, New World monkeys have better adapted to current situations which allow them to survive better in their habitat.

Monkeys also live in groups or tribe which allow them to help each other survive as well.

The most common monkey in the world is the Capuchin. It is also considered the most intelligent among the New World monkeys. Many people all over the world breed them and make them pets. However, some countries and states forbid this.

White-faced Capuchin Monkey, monkey facts
Photo by ryanacandee on Flickr

Ancient Egyptians believed the Hamadryan Baboon is holy.

This is mainly because the Egyptian God Thoth would be regularly drawn as a man with the head of a baboon. This species closely resembles the head depicted in Egyptian drawings.

The Diana monkey takes its name from a Roman goddess.

The stripe on its head closely resembles the bow that the Roman goddess held. Diana was also called Artemis. She is the goddess of hunting.

The male howler monkey has the loudest call amongst all primates.

This monkey is also one of the loudest animals on the planet. Its howl can travel up to 3 miles away through dense forests. Research states that the louder the noise the howler monkey makes, the lower sperm count it has. These monkeys also tend to have smaller testicles.

Capuchin monkeys get its name from monks.

Its name was from 16th-century monks who would wear brown coloured robes. These robes closely resembled the monkey’s hair. Their garments have the name Capuchin robes.

A troop refers to a group of monkeys.

They are also referred to as a barrel, cartload, or tribe. Their groups travel together in search of food and new habitats to take place in. They defend valuable resources together and group against anyone who opposes their species.

group of monkeys, monkey facts
Photo by Rajesh Balouria from Pexels

Monkeys can communicate through grooming rituals.

They normally pick out dirt and parasites from each other’s fur. This social ritual helps monkeys strengthen family and group bonds with each other. It is also how they form their social hierarchies.

Squirrel monkeys mark themselves like how humans wear name tags.

This is a common practice that they do to better identify themselves. Other monkeys will smear food on their tails, other monkeys with dirt.

The black snub-nosed monkeys are only in the Chinese province of Yunnan.

These monkeys live in the highest altitudes of any primate. They reside in mountains up to 15,000 feet high. This species got its name from its black fur and distinctive nose feature.

Baboons have a language of their own.

baboon, monkey facts
Photo from Pixabay

Research states that baboons have over 30 different types of sounds that they make. They also communicate through actions such as shrugging and lip movements. The sounds they make are often referred to as the baboon bark.

An estimated 1,500 golden lion tamarins exist.  

Also known as the golden marmoset, they take their name from Africa’s great cats. The total number of species is decreasing due to the loss of trees which they use for their habitats. These golden monkeys are in the rapidly diminishing Atlantic forest.

Ethiopian geladas have the largest monkey groups on the planet.

Their groups usually consist of 350-650 members. These monkeys are also called bleeding heart monkeys because of the red marks on their chests. While they may have similar features with the baboon, they are not classified as such.

Monkeys found on Yakushima island co-exist with deers. 

These monkeys groom and share food with local deer in exchange for rides to their destinations. Some research has found rare interspecies behavior among the two species as well. Some monkeys attempted to mate with other deers. 

HIV originated from a chimp’s stomach.

The chimp in question had eaten two other monkeys that had two different viruses. These viruses then combined and formed a hybrid virusThis later spread through the chimp species and spread onto humans.

White-faced capuchin monkeys rub themselves with insects.

white-faced capuchin, monkey facts
Photo from Pixabay

More specifically, they rub their fur with giant African millipedes. Research states that they do this to repel other insects from going near them.

We learned to wash our food from monkeys.

During the 1940s, a research institute offered sweet potatoes to monkeys used in their research. They noticed that the monkey did not like the taste of dirt on the vegetable and wash them first before eating. Much later, humans also developed the same habit of washing their food before eating or cooking them.

Labs in the US used over 50,000 monkeys as test subjects.

In Britain, they use over 10,000 monkeys. Japan, on the other hand, uses millions of monkeys each year to test and experiment on cosmetics, medicine, etcThey use monkeys because science suggests that they will have similar reactions to humans.

Scientists identified over 264 monkey species already.

These monkeys have two main categories: New World and Old World. Most species are capable of walking on both its legs only and all fours. Most of these monkeys are also in Africa and Asia.

Not all monkeys live in trees.

A monkey has two main habitats depending on the species. This includes arboreal and terrestrial territories. Contrary to popular belief, most species of monkeys live on the ground and not in trees.

A monkey’s diet is not limited to fruits.

They also consume insects, flowers, leaves, and even other animals. Some species of monkeys also eat the eggs of other animals. Chimpanzees regularly hunt for meat and other monkeys also eat its species.

Monkeys are a popular kind of exotic pets.

While they are illegal in most parts of the world, humans trained these primates are to offer help. Some are even used as companions for those with disabilities.

Only a few monkeys can see in colour.

Old World monkeys can see the same as humans do. They can differentiate colours and pick up red, blue, and green hues. However, many New World monkeys are not able to see any colours at all and only see in black and white.

Monkeys are incredibly curious creatures.

Often they get into all sorts of trouble due to their curiosity. Monkeys kept in captivity have to be constantly entertained. This is so that they do not cause destructive or violent behaviors due to their boredom.

monkey facts
Photo from Public Domain Pictures

All monkeys have opposable thumbs.

These allow them to climb well and find food sources better. Without these, they would not be able to peel bananas. Certain other animals also have opposable thumbs such as koalas, pandas, and certain frog species.

Monkeys cannot catch a common cold.

More specifically, New World monkeys do not carry the zoonotic disease that is normally associated with Old World monkeys. These monkeys carry various diseases but can never catch a common cold.

Monkeys can yawn.

Monkeys and apes can catch yawns from other humans or primates. Research has shown that 60% of people catch a yawn from others and is what causes you to yawn as well. Yawning helps the brain cool down and wake itself up.

Monkeys express emotions similar to how humans do.

monkey, smile, monkey facts
Photo from Pixabay

When a mother primate loses a child, they mourn for it. They can show anger towards other members of the group. Monkeys are also known to feel affection and jealousy towards other monkeys.

Brazil has the most number of primates than any other country.

The country has over 16 genera and over 77 species of other primates. Second to this is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have a total of 18 genera and 37 primate species.

Primates share 6 distinctive features.

The 6 features include forward-facing eyes, eye sockets, nails, fingerprints, hands, and large brains. Humans and monkeys look similar due to a common ancestor they had from millions of years ago.

Monkeys use a variation of body language to communicate with each other.

They make faces and large body movements to communicate with other primates. They also pull on their lips and make noises at other monkeys.

Habitat loss threatens monkeys each year. 

monkey, tree, monkey facts
Photo from Pixabay

Species that are commonly found in tropical forests are slowly losing their homes to deforestation and forest fires. As of 2007, scientists have over 21 primate species marked as endangered due to this problem. 46 other species are also now vulnerable to extinction.

Grooming is a monkey’s way to express affection to another.

They also often make peace with other monkeys by offering to groom their fur. Grooming is an essential part of socializing amongst monkeys.

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