mandrill, large monkey, Mandrillus sphinx, of central W Africa, related to the baboons. Mandrills are found in forests, while baboons live in open country. The fur of the mandrill is mostly dark brown, but the bare areas—face and buttocks—are patterned in bright colors that are especially spectacular in the adult male, the most colorful of all mammals. The long, heavy doglike muzzle has bright red skin covering the chin, mouth, and nose and extending upward in a narrow strip to the striking, close-set, yellow-brown eyes. The cheeks are bright blue and are folded into an elaborate pattern of ridges. The fur around the eyes is black, and the beard and the edges of the mane are pale yellow. The buttock pads are bright blue, red, and purple. The tail is a short stump. Male mandrills, about 3 ft (90 cm) long, are considerably larger than females and have enormous canine teeth that they display in yawnlike threatening gestures. Mandrills travel on the ground in small family groups, feeding chiefly on insects and vegetation. Powerful animals, and formidable when provoked, they are retiring in habits and avoid contact with humans. They are extremely difficult to observe in the wild. The closely related drill, M. leucophaeus, is also a forest dweller. It is brown with a black face partially outlined in red; the buttock pads are pink. The mandrill and the drill are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Cercopithecidae.

The Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) is a primate of the Cercopithecidae (Old-world monkeys) family, closely related to the baboons and even more closely to the Drill. Both the Mandrill and the Drill were once classified as baboons in genus Papio, but recent research has determined that they should be separated into their own genus, Mandrillus. The Mandrill is the world's largest species of monkey. The word mandrill means "man-ape".


The Mandrill is recognized by its olive-colored fur and the colorful face and rump of males, a coloration that grows stronger with sexual maturity; females have duller colors. This coloration becomes more pronounced as the monkey becomes excited and is likely to be an example of sexual selection. The coloration on the rump is thought to enhance visibility in the thick vegetation of the rainforest and aids in group movement.

Males can weigh up to 60 lbs (30 kg), females about half as much (30lbs). Unusually large males can weigh 110 lbs (50 kg). They can grow to be about 1 m long (39 in) and can survive up to 31 years in captivity. Females reach sexual maturity at about 3.5 years.


The Mandrill is found in the tropical rainforests of southern Nigeria, southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo. Its distribution is bounded by the Sanaga River to the north and the Ogooué and Ivindo rivers to the east. Recent research suggests that mandrill populations north and south of the Ogooué river are so genetically different as to be separate subspecies.


Mandrills are social creatures and live in large groups, primarily including females and young and led by a single dominant male. Most adult males are solitary. It is difficult to accurately estimate group size in the forest, but filming a group crossing a gap between two forest patches or crossing a road is a reliable way of estimating group size. The largest group verifiably observed in this way contained over 1300 individuals, in Lopé National Park, Gabon - the largest aggregation of non-human primates ever recorded

The Mandrill is an omnivore and acquires its food by foraging (mainly plants, insects and smaller animals) from the ground as it is terrestrial. Its main natural predators are leopards.

A large group of mandrills can cause significant damage to crops in a very short time, and where common they are widely perceived as pests.

Mandrills are hunted for food throughout their range, either with guns or using dogs and nets. In Cameroon, habitat loss to agriculture is also a threat.

Although the Mandrill does not normally hunt larger prey, males have been observed to hunt and consume duiker (a small antelope).


The gestation (pregnancy) time for the Mandrill is 6–7 months and young are usually born between January and April. However, the mandrill mates throughout the year during the estrous cycle, which occurs once every 33 days. The interbirth interval is typically 13-14 months.


During courtship, the male will walk after the female as the female leads. The male will then make little courtship noises, baring his teeth and vocalizing softly. If the female likes what she hears she will orientate her rear towards the male. The male will mount her and they commence copulating. After copulation, the female will depart.


Mandrill infants are born with their eyes open and with fur. They have a black coat and pink skin for the first two months. They cling to their mother's belly immediately and can support their own weight. Mothers form bonds with their children. These bonds last into adulthood with the daughters, while the bonds with the sons last only until his sexual maturity. These bonds entail the two sitting with each other and grooming each other.

Popular References

Rafiki, a character in the 1994 Walt Disney Feature Animation film, The Lion King, is a "shaman mandrill".



  • Listed as Vulnerable (VU A2cd v2.3)
  • Nowak, Ronald M (1999). Walker's Primates of the World, 151-152. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-6251-5.

External links

Search another word or see mandrillon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature