Brown spider monkey

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Brown spider monkey[1]
BrownSpiderMonkey (edit2).jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Atelidae
Genus: Ateles
Species: A. hybridus
Binomial name
Ateles hybridus
I. Geoffroy, 1829
Brown Spider Monkey area.png
Brown spider monkey range

Physical Description

Brown spider monkeys have long and thin limbs with their forelimbs being longer than their hind limbs. They also have a distinctive 75 cm long flexible, thin and prehensile tail which at times acts like a fifth limb. Tip is hairless with ridged skin for better grip. All these features of their body makes it possible for them to climb trees at high elevations, hang and swing from one tree to another without having to lower themselves to the ground often. Their hands are slightly curvy looking with smaller thumbs. Adult males weigh between 7.9 and 9.1 kg and adult females weigh between 7.5 and 9 kg. Their average adult body length is about 50 cm. Their coloration ranges from light brown to dark on upper parts including the head. Their most distinctive characteristic is their white triangular forehead patch all though not all spider monkeys have this. Some, even though very unusual, possess pale blue eyes.[3]


Average lifespan of a spider monkey is 27 years, however, in captivity that can be increased by 10 or more years.[4]

Near extinct

The Brown spider monkey is among "The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates", and is one of only two Neotropical primates (the other being the yellow-tailed woolly monkey) to have been included in this list in both 2006-2008 and 2008-2010.[5] They were recognized as species only a decade ago. Habitat loss, forest fragmentation and Hunting are the major threats for the remaining monkeys.


Brown Spider monkeys in Colombia are found from the right bank of the Rio Magdalena in the Departments of Magdalena, Cesar. The south western portions of Guajira in the northernmost parts of the Serrania de Perija, and in the middle Rio Magdalena valley at least to the Departments of Caldas and Cundinamarca.[6]

Habitat and Ecology

Brown spider monkeys are normally found in elevations between 20–700 m. Even though they spend most of their time in high elevations to move about, they occasionally descend to eat soil and drink water. Since they like trees and foraging in high canopies, they prefer forests that have not been disturbed, also known as primary forests. This is because primary forests offer lifestyle they are comfortable in, for example endless canopies, tall trees, and many fruiting trees that disturbed forests do not offer.[7] Brown spider monkey's always travel in small groups, and instead of walking or running on all fours, they travel mostly by swinging and climbing between trees.[2]


Ateles hybridus mainly forage in the canopies of forests and rely mostly on their senses of sight, smell, taste, and touch to find food. Brown spider monkeys are mainly herbivores and frugivores. A main component of the brown spider monkey’s diet is ripe fruit. 83% of their diet is lipid rich fruits. However in dryer seasons where fruit is less abundant, brown spider monkeys feed on leaves, seeds, flowers, bark, honey, decaying wood, and occasionally insects such as termites and caterpillars.[2] Ateles hybridus feed on different species of figs year around. Scientists have observed spider monkeys eating soil and clay, and hypothesized that the reasons for this behavior could be to obtain minerals from the soil, for phosphorus, or in order to maintain a pH- balance in their digestive system. Brown spider monkeys find water to drink on the forest floor at “salado sites.” Competition for food occurs between spider monkeys and other frugivorous primates.[8]

Goldstirn-Klammeraffe (Ateles belzebuth hybridus).JPG


The population is estimated to have decreased by at least 80% and some populations have already been extirpated.[5] Few remaining populations are of adequate size to be viable long-term.[2] Exact amount of Brown spider monkeys present today is unknown, but breeding success has been limited and no births were reported between May 2009 and May 2010.[9] Habitat loss is ongoing within its range, and an estimated 98% of its habitat already is gone.[10] It is also threatened by hunting (in some regions it is the favorite game) and the wild animals trade.[5] Although habitat destruction is one of the utmost threats the brown spider monkey faces, one study in particular shown no significant difference between population densities inside versus outside forest areas disturbed by loggers. It has been hypothesized that this anomaly is due to the sample being taken from El Paujil reserve, which is a protected area and may serve as refuge from other human activities, namely poaching.[11] A small population of fewer than 30 individuals of the subspecies A. h. brunneus has been discovered in a protected area of Colombia, the Selva de Florencia National Park. This is the southernmost population of the brown spider monkey and the only population found in a protected area.[12]

Natural Threats

Ateles hybridus have a relatively large body size, and their largest threats are jaguars (Panthera onca), mountain lions (Felis concolor), harpy eagles (Harpia harpyja), and crested eagles (Morphnus guianensis) <ref(Chapman and Onderdonk, 1998; Cowlishaw and Dunbar, 2000; Link and Morales Jimenez, 2008; Takahashi, 2008; Urbani, et al., 2008/>. Brown spider monkeys are known to shake branches in order to ward off potential predators. Brown spider monkeys are also targeted by humans as a favorite game species, especially in Colombia,[13] to be sold as pets in which case the mother is killed and her baby is sold into the pet trade <ref(Chapman and Onderdonk, 1998; Cowlishaw and Dunbar, 2000; Link and Morales Jimenez, 2008; Takahashi, 2008; Urbani, et al., 2008/>. The species suffers from habitat destruction due to conversion to agricultural land, clear-cutting,[13] logging especially in the lowland forest in the Andean mountains,[2] conversion to secondary forest, and disturbance to potential corridors by humans. Brown spider monkeys are most threatened by habitat loss and hunting.[13] Habitat disturbance is a major risk for the Venezuelan population of brown spider monkeys. Humans have destroyed massive spans of forest to raise cattle on.[2]>


  1. ^ Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 151. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Urbani, B., Morales, A. L., Link, A. & Stevenson, P. (2008). "Ateles hybridus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  3. ^ (Ankel-Simons, 1999; Fleagle, 1999; Morales Jiménez, 2007; Takahashi, 2008)
  4. ^ (Takahashi, 2008)
  5. ^ a b c Mittermeier, R.A.; Wallis, J.; Rylands, A.B.; Ganzhorn, J.U.; Oates, J.F.; Williamson, E.A.; Palacios, E.; Heymann, E.W.; Kierulff, M.C.M.; Long Yongcheng; Supriatna, J.; Roos, C.; Walker, S.; Cortés-Ortiz, L.; Schwitzer, C., eds. (2009). Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates 2008–2010 (PDF). Illustrated by S.D. Nash. Arlington, VA.: IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group (PSG), International Primatological Society (IPS), and Conservation International (CI). pp. 1–92. ISBN 978-1-934151-34-1. 
  6. ^ Arauca (Hernández-Camacho and Cooper 1976; Defler 2003, 2004).
  7. ^ (Chapman and Onderdonk, 1998; Morales Jiménez, 2007; Takahashi, 2008; Urbani, et al., 2008)
  8. ^ (Chapman and Onderdonk, 1998; Cowlishaw and Dunbar, 2000; Link and Morales Jimenez, 2008; Takahashi, 2008; Urbani, et al., 2008)
  9. ^ International Species Information System (2010). Ateles hybridus. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  10. ^ Fundación ProAves (2010). Tragic demise of the Magdalena Spider Monkey. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  11. ^ BioOne Online Journal (2008). [1] Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  12. ^ Dell'Amore, Christine (27 January 2012). "Near-Extinct Monkeys Found in Colombian Park". Daily News. National Geographic. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c Russell A. Mittermeier, Christoph Schwitzer, Anthony B. Rylands, Lucy A. Taylor, Federica Chiozza, Elizabeth A. Williamson and Janette Wallis (eds.). 2012. Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2012–2014. IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group (PSG), International Primatological Society (IPS), Conservation International (CI), and Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, Bristol, UK. 40pp.

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