What is the difference between Old World monkeys and New World monkeys?

What is the difference between Old World monkeys and New World monkeys?

Old World monkeys live in the African continent, in coastal Arabia, and in Asia. New World monkeys live mainly in the tropical rain forests of South American countries.

Old World monkeys belong to one family called the Ceropithecidae family. They are catarrhines, which means that they have narrow, downward noses. Apes and humans also have downward noses. 

Old World monkeys (top three) and New World monkeys (bottom three)

Old World monkeys include Guenons, Macaques, Mangabeys, Baboons, Mandrills, Drills, Talapoins, Allen’s Swamp Monkeys, Vervets, Patas Monkeys, Geladas, Langurs, Leaf Monkeys, Colobus Monkeys, Snub-Nosed Monkeys, Doucs, and Proboscis Monkeys.

New World monkeys belong to five families of platyrrhines, which mean that they have wide, flat noses. 

The five New World families are: (1) the Callitrichidae family of Marmosets, Goeldi’s Monkeys, and Tamarins; (2) the Pitheciidae family of Titi Monkeys, Saki Monkeys, and Uakari Monkeys, (3) the Atelidae family of Spider Monkeys and Woolly Monkeys, (4) the Cebidae family of Capuchins and Squirrel Monkeys, and (5) the Aotidae family of Night Monkeys. 

All monkeys have tails. Apes do not have tails. Old Word monkeys do not have prehensile tails that can grip tree branches. New World monkeys have prehensile tails that can grip tree branches.

Old World monkey – Black-and-White Colobus Monkey (left) and New World monkey – Squirrel Monkey (right)

Old World monkeys have hard, ‘sitting pads’ called ischial callosities, on their bottoms. New World monkeys do not have ischial callosities.

Most Old World monkeys have opposable thumbs that enables them to grip objects. This is called manual dexterity. New World monkeys do not have manual dexterity.

Old World monkey – Savannah Baboon
Old World monkey – Sooty Mangabey
Old World monkey – Long-Tailed Macaque
Old World monkeys
New World monkey – Goeldi’s Monkey
New Wold monkey – Black-Capped Capuchin
New World monkey – Black-Capped Squirrel Monkey
New World monkeys

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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