Primates: Monkey & Apes

The order Primates, meaning "prime or first rank", contains approximately 431 species of lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys and apes. Most primates are arboreal and live in tropical or subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia, but there are a number of ground dwelling primates as well. Primates range in size from the tiny mouse lemur, which weighs only 1 oz (30 gm), to the huge mountain gorilla that can weigh up to 440 lb (200 kg).

Apes are primates belonging to the superfamily Hominoidea. There are approximately 22 species of apes including gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gibbons and humans. Except for gorillas and humans, apes are agile climbers. Most nonhuman ape species are rare or endangered.

New World Monkeys
The group known as the new world monkeys, or Platyrrhines, are those monkey species native to Central and South America. They differ from old world monkeys in that they have more teeth, a shorter ear canal and different nose features. There are approximately 129 species of new world monkeys, belonging to five families and including the capuchins, howlers, spiders and squirrel monkeys to name a few.

Old World Monkeys
The term old world monkey, or Catarrhine, refers to those monkeys that are native to Africa and Asia. Old world monkeys differ from those found in the new world by several characteristics including features of the nose, the length of the ear canal and the number of teeth they possess. All old world monkeys belong to the family Cercopithecidae and include many familiar species such as baboons and macaques.