The large, loose-limbed spider monkey is known for its acrobatic feats through the old-growth trees of Central America’s rain forests
. Ranging in color from copper to black, this monkey can reach 5 feet in length, and it has developed extremely long, flexible limbs to accommodate its arboreal lifestyle. Spider monkeys also possess a prehensile tail that acts as a fifth hand, used to grasp tree branches and hang upside-down. This spectacular extremity is up to 35 inches long, reaching further than the length of the spider monkeys’ entire body, and has skin grooves on the underside that aid in gripping trees after these highly active creatures make extraordinary leaps.
Gregarious after dark, spider monkeys sleep together in large groups in the trees. During the day, however, they are quite unsociable compared to other primates. The males are solitary, busily marking their territories with scents from their chest glands, while the females tend to their infants, which ride on their mothers’ backs.
Spider monkeys were once found throughout the forests of Central America
. However, human encroachment has led to a reduction in this primate’s range, as disturbances such as habitat degradation, deforestation and
poaching for bush meat
continue to shrink populations. If you happen upon a spider monkey, it may screech, bark and jostle the branches of its perch in a demonstration of its fearlessness.