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Scientific Name of Monkey

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Know the Scientific Name of Monkey

One of the most common examples we cite for mammals is a monkey. It is a generalised term that is used to depict the animals that live on trees. Monkey is the common name for the mammals falling in the infra-order Simiiformes. They are commonly known as Simians in zoological terms. In this article, we will define the scientific name of monkeys and will determine their zoological features.

What are Monkeys?

Monkeys are the animals that dwell on the trees and are called arboreal. Some of the species live on the ground primarily. One such species is baboons. The monkeys are diurnal in nature. It means they graze during the day and rest at night.

The scientific name of monkey depends on the genus and species in the classification. The apes do not fall in this category. They fall in the group named paraphyletic. Apes, on the other hand, fall in the group cladistics. Monkeys are divided into two broader families, the Old World Monkeys and the New World Monkeys.

The New World Monkeys consist of the five families prevailing in South and Central America. The families are Callitrichidae, Aotidae, Cebidae, Atelidae, and Pitheciidae. The Old World Monkeys are considered to be primates. The taxonomical name is Cercopithecidae. There are 138 species in this family and 24 genera. Baboons and macaques fall into this family.

The New World Monkeys are called Platyrrhini, and the Old World Monkeys are called Catarrhini. All these species are considered to be intelligent in terms of using natural tools and survival techniques they use. The Old World Monkeys are smarter than the New World ones in terms of intelligence.

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What is the Scientific Name of the Monkey?

Monkeys evolved almost 60 million years ago. Apes also emerged as a sister of the Cercopithecidae family. This is why sometimes they are also called monkeys too. The prime features that distinguish monkeys from the other primates are the presence of pectoral nipples, the absence of sensory whiskers, and an external pendulous penis.

The zoological name of the monkey depends on the classification or taxonomical features. As mentioned earlier, these primates emerged and developed to form multiple genera and species, their scientific name of monkey can be broadly divided into two types.

  • Simiiformes catarrhini (Old World Monkeys)

  • Simiiformes platyrrhini (New World Monkeys)

We already know that the biological name of monkey that is simians has been derived from the infra-order Simiiformes. In Latin, Simia means an ape or a monkey. Let us take a deeper look into the species names of these two genera.

The word ‘Catarrhini’ evolved from Latin, meaning ‘hook nosed’. It refers to the nostrils of these species that point downwards. On the other hand, Platyrrhini means broad-nosed. This term refers to the species that have broader and flattened nostrils.

Behavior and Appearance of Monkeys

Monkeys are related to apes such as gorillas and chimpanzees. These great apes do not have a tail and have larger brains than monkeys. More than 250 species exist in this classification of monkeys. The best examples are tamarinds, macaques, marmosets, etc.

They come in different colours and sizes. For instance, pygmy marmosets are less than 6 inches in height and weigh as much as 100 grams only. Mandrill with a colourful nose weighs up to 37 kg and is 3 feet in size. To compare them with apes, gorillas can weigh up to 136 to 227 kg, and their height can stretch up to 2.6 m.

To be precise, the old world monkeys have tails but cannot use them to grab branches or objects. The best example is a baboon. They have noses that face forward and resemble humans. They have longer snouts with brown, grey, or tan fur colours.

On the other hand, the monkey group name Platyrrhini depicts simians with flatter noses and nostrils facing sideways. These monkeys have prehensile tails that can be used for grabbing branches, trees, and any object for stability and convenience. They can also hang from trees based on their tail’s strength. One of the best examples that show extreme diversity in fur and skin colour is the spider monkey. It has long black fur with a small pink face poking out. The distinctive colour of the fur and skin make these species look different from the rest.

There are species that avoid travelling or grazing on the ground. They move from one point to the other using branches of trees. It is called brachiation. This term depicts a type of locomotion where monkeys swing to the next branch for perching and proceed to the next one. This is an evolutionary feature that monkeys of certain kinds have adopted to avoid predators on the ground and trees. These monkeys have bigger arms and tails, leading to easy grabbing of the branches. This type of locomotion does not even slow down these species. A gibbon can move from one branch to the other at a speed of 54.7 km per hour. It is the same speed a racehorse attains in a track.


This article is about what is the scientific name of monkeys and the difference between the two broad divisions of monkeys, according to their scientific names. Understanding the importance of the zoological name of monkey has been explained in this article.

Last updated date: 28th Sep 2023
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FAQs on Scientific Name of Monkey

1. What do monkeys eat?

Monkeys are considered to be omnivorous. They prefer eating insects, leaves, fruits, etc., larger monkeys prey on lizards and bird eggs. The major part of the diet comprises fruits, nuts, seeds, leaves, etc. Their food habits depend on the respective habitats of the monkeys.

2. What is the difference between a monkey and an ape?

The prime difference between an ape and a monkey is the presence of a tail. Apes do not have tails, whereas monkeys have. These monkeys can either use the tail to grab things or for locomotion. On the other hand, Apes rely on their hands and legs for balance and locomotion. Apes are also more intelligent than monkeys.