What Are Some of the Adaptations Exhibited by Monkeys?

Jonathan Leung/CC-BY-SA 2.0

Monkey adaptations include their anatomy, behavior and use of tools. Specific adaptations depend on the species. For instance, capuchin monkeys, common chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans all use tools. Chimpanzees use sticks to probe termites and scoop honey for food; they use rocks to crack nuts.

Many types of monkeys, especially those in the New World, have prehensile tails. They are able to use this tail almost as another hand, which helps them climb and find food. Some monkeys, such as capuchins, hang from their tails while eating. The hands themselves are hook-like, allowing them to swing from branch to branch. Howler monkeys have developed large vocal cords which allow the males to announce their presence, thereby protecting their habitats from encroaching rival monkeys. Squirrel monkeys secrete a musk through their fur to mark their territory. They’ve also developed short, powerful thighs that help them leap from tree to tree.

A behavioral adaptation of monkeys is their habit of living in societies. This allows the young and old to have close associations and care for each other. Generally all the monkeys within their group have a role that helps the group survive. For example, older monkeys teach survival skills to the young, ensuring that they are ready to manage their environment when they grow up. Working as a group also allows them to avoid or intimidate predators.