Night monkey

Night monkey
Night monkeys[1]
A night monkey in Panama
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Parvorder: Platyrrhini
Family: Aotidae
Poche, 1908 (1865)
Genus: Aotus
Illiger, 1811
Type species
Simia trivirgata
Humboldt, 1811

see text

The night monkeys, also known as the owl monkeys or douroucoulis, are the members of the genus Aotus of New World monkeys (monotypic in family Aotidae). They are widely distributed in the forests of Central and South America, from Panama south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. The species that live at higher elevations tend to have thicker fur than the monkeys at sea level. The genus name means "earless"; they have ears, of course, but the external ears are tiny and hard to see. Night monkeys have big brown eyes and therefore have increased ability to be active at night. They are called night monkeys because all species are active at night and are in fact the only truly nocturnal monkeys (an exception is the subspecies Aotus azarae azarae, which is cathemeral).[2] Both male and female Night Monkeys weigh almost the same amount. For example, in one of these Night Monkeys, A. azarae, the male weighs 2.76 pounds while the female weighs 2.75 pounds.

Night monkeys make a notably wide variety of vocal sounds, with up to eight categories of distinct calls (gruff grunts, resonant grunts, screams, low trills, moans, gulps, sneeze grunts and hoots), and a frequency range of 190-1,950 Hz.[3] Unusual among the New World monkeys, they are monochromats, that is, they have no colour vision, presumably because it is of no advantage given their nocturnal habits. They have a better spatial resolution at low light levels than other primates which contributes to their ability to capture insects and move at night.[4]

All night monkeys form pair bonds, and live in family groups of the mated pair with their immature offspring. Family groups defend territories by vocal calls and scent marking. Only one infant is born each year. The male is the primary caregiver, and the mother only carries the infant for the first week or so of its life.

Night monkeys constitute one of the few monkey species that are affected by the often deadly human malaria protozoan Plasmodium falciparum, making them useful as non-human primate experimental models in malaria research.[5]



Until 1983, all night monkeys were placed into only one (A. lemurimus) or two species (A. lemurinus and A. azarae). Some authors still believe that there are only two or three true species, the remaining taxa being subspecies of these. An often used distinction is an even split of eight species between a northern gray-necked group (A. lemurinus, A. hershkovitzi, A. trivirgatus and A. vociferans) and a southern red-necked group (A. miconax, A. nancymaae, A. nigriceps and A. azarae).[1] It has been argued that the taxa otherwise considered subspecies of A. lemurinusbrumbacki, griseimembra and zonalis – actually should be considered separate species,[6][7] whereas it has been argued that A. hershkovitzi is a junior synonym of A. lemurinus.[6] A new species from the gray-necked group was recently described as A. jorgehernandezi. As is the case with some other splits in this genus,[8] an essential part of the argument for recognizing this new species was differences in the chromosomes.[7] Chromosome evidence has also been used as an argument for merging "species", as was the case for considering infulatus a subspecies of A. azarae rather than a separate species.[9] Fossil species have (correctly or incorrectly) been assigned to this genus, but only extant species are listed below.


Three-striped night monkey


  1. ^ a b Groves, Colin P. (16 November 2005). "Order Primates (pp. 111-184)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 139–141. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Owl monkey. Primate info net.
  3. ^ Moynihan, M. (1964). "Some behavior patterns of platyrrhine monkeys. I. The night monkey (Aotus trivirgatus)". Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 146 (5): 1–84. 
  4. ^ Jacobs, G. H., Deegan, J. F., Neitz, J., Crognale, M. A. (1993). "Photopigments and colour vision in the nocturnal monkey, Aotus". Vision Research 33 (13): 1773–1783. doi:10.1016/0042-6989(93)90168-V. PMID 8266633. 
  5. ^ Baer, J.F., Weller, R.E. and Kakoma, I. (eds), ed (1994). Aotus : The Owl Monkey. San Diego: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-072405-7. 
  6. ^ a b Defler, T.R., Bueno, M. L., & Hernández-Camacho, J. I. (2001). "The taxonomic status of Aotus hershkovitzi: Its relationship to Aotus lemurinus lemurinus". Neotropical Primates 9 (2): 37–52. 
  7. ^ a b Defler, T. R., & Bueno, M. L. (2007). "Aotus Diversity and the Species Problem". Primate Conservation 2007 (22): 55–70. 
  8. ^ Torres, O. M., Enciso, S., Ruiz, F., Silva, E., & Yunis, I. (1998). "Chromosome diversity of the genus Aotus from Colombia". American Journal of Primatology 44 (4): 255–275. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1098-2345(1998)44:4<255::AID-AJP2>3.0.CO;2-V. PMID 9559066. 
  9. ^ Pieczarka, J. C., de Souza Barros, R. M., de Faria Jr, F. M., Nagamachi, C. Y. (1993). "Aotus from the southwestern Amazon region is geographically and chromosomally intermediate between A. azarae boliviensis and A. infulatus". Primates 34 (2): 197–204. doi:10.1007/BF02381390. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Night monkey — Night Night (n[imac]t), n. [OE. night, niht, AS. neaht, niht; akin to D. nacht, OS. & OHG. naht, G. nacht, Icel. n[=o]tt, Sw. natt, Dan. nat, Goth. nahts, Lith. naktis, Russ. noche, W. nos, Ir. nochd, L. nox, noctis, Gr. ny x, nykto s, Skr. nakta …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • night monkey — mirikina statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Aotes trivirgatus angl. douroucouli; night monkey; three banded night monkey vok. Mirikina; Nachtaffe rus. мирикина; ночная обезьяна; трёхполосый дурукуль… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • night\ monkey — Going out in to the middle of the night and running around like an idiot to get rid of one s nervous energy. We ve been working on this project for 15 hours straight and I can t sit still any more. Let s night monkey …   Dictionary of american slang

  • night\ monkey — Going out in to the middle of the night and running around like an idiot to get rid of one s nervous energy. We ve been working on this project for 15 hours straight and I can t sit still any more. Let s night monkey …   Dictionary of american slang

  • night monkey — noun : night ape …   Useful english dictionary

  • night monkey — douroucouli. [1870 75] * * * …   Universalium

  • Panamanian night monkey — Panamanian night monkey[1] Conservation status …   Wikipedia

  • Three-striped night monkey — Three striped night monkey[1] Conservation status …   Wikipedia

  • Nancy Ma's night monkey — Nancy Ma s night monkey[1] Conservation status Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[ …   Wikipedia

  • Gray-bellied Night Monkey — Taxobox name = Gray bellied Night MonkeyMSW3 Groves|pages=140] status = VU trend = unknown status system = iucn3.1 status ref = IUCN2006|assessors=Defler et al |year=2003|id=1801|title=Aotus lemurinus|downloaded=10 May 2006 Database entry… …   Wikipedia

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