What Is It About Monkeys?
They intrigue us, delight and entertain us, make us wonder about our evolutionary connections, or common ancestors. They are fierce, powerful, dominating, and aggressive. And they're silly, cuddly, docile, playful, and very often downright cute.
There are places around the world where monkeys are more common than dogs, running loose in the streets and left to their own devices. They're often mischievous and cunning, and adept at stealing, but with no malicious intent - they just want what you got! They are impulsive like children, instinctual to satisfy their every want and need. And they make quick getaways, never to be seen again (so guard your belongings).
Southeast Asia is famous for their monkeys that fascinate tourists in public parks and temples, carousing with each other day and night to the delight of onlookers. Monkeys in Asia are unique to the Old World: Langurs in India and Malaysia; Macaques in India, Thailand, and Indonesia: Gibbons in Thailand; Orangutans in Borneo; and Proboscis in Borneo and Malaysia.
Then there are the New World monkeys of Central and South America, the only monkeys with prehensile tails - an adaptation that enables tree-dwelling animals to hold themselves by the tail, allowing them to forage, grasp and eat food in the trees - in comparison with the shorter, non-grasping tails of Old World monkeys.
But let's get to the point of this post - have you ever really heard monkeys in the wild? Take a listen!
The haunting call of the adult male is all about sounding the alarm - and boy is it alarming!
Males call at dawn and dusk and throughout the day to warn others of their presence and territory, to run other troupes away, and to alert and guard females in their troupe. They are one of only a few nest-building monkeys.
In Central America (southern Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama) you can see and hear howlers. I love the sounds of the howler in the morning and night. TAKE A LISTEN!
VIDEO (below): You'll hear several different troupes of howlers calling, and the male close by seems to tell everyone this is his territory.
Spider monkeys are highly social creatures. We found out exactly how social they are one year when we rescued one from her illegal captivity in Costa Rica. Named for their long limbs and prehensile tails, they can produce a wide range of sounds. When threatened, they can bark similar to a yappy dog, vocalize a whinny similar to a horse, and utter loud, prolonged screams. Yeah, we heard that!
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW
VIDEO (below): These sounds you'll hear sound like someone screaming! We were stopped dead in our tracks while hiking in the Osa peninsula of Costa Rica. Though we didn't know what they were at the time, the resident Naturalist at Bosque del Cabo identified the sounds as that of Spider Monkeys, probably in a heated territorial dispute or warning their troupe to the presence of a predator.
VIDEO (below): More Howlers, in their late afternoon feeding. You'll hear a few groups of the howlers moving through, and the cicadas coming through at the end.
If you haven't visited the monkeys of Central America yet, what are you waiting for? GO!