Chordates • Earth.com

Black-handed spider monkey

(Ateles geoffroyi)

galery

Description

Geoffroy's spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), also known as the black-handed spider monkey or the Central American spider monkey is a species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central America, parts of Mexico and possibly a small portion of Colombia. There are at least five subspecies. Some primatologists classify the black-headed spider monkey (A. fusciceps), found in Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador as the same species as Geoffroy's spider monkey. It is one of the largest New World monkeys, often weighing as much as 9 kg (20 lb). Its arms are significantly longer than its legs, and its prehensile tail can support the entire weight of the monkey and is used as an extra limb. Its hands have only a vestigial thumb, but long, strong, hook-like fingers. These adaptations allow the monkey to move by swinging by its arms beneath the tree branches. Its body color varies by subspecies and population, and can be buff, reddish, rust, brown or black. The hands and feet are dark or black.The face usually has a pale mask and bare skin around the eyes and muzzle. Its arms and legs are long and slim. The arms are about 25% longer than the legs. The thumb is only vestigial, but the fingers are long and strong, making the hands hook-like. The long arms and hook-like hands allow Geoffroy's spider monkey to brachiate, that is, swing by its arms beneath the tree branches. The prehensile tail is very strong and has a palm-like pad at the end. The tail acts as an extra limb, and is used for locomotion, as well as to pick fruits and to scoop water from holes in trees. Geoffroy's spider monkey can support its weight suspended by its tail and often does so when feeding. The clitoris of female Geoffroy's spider monkeys is large and protrudes, looking like a penis. This organ, called a pendulous clitoris because of the way it dangles externally, is actually larger than the male flaccid penis. As a result, females are sometimes mistaken for males by human observers.The enlarged clitoris is believed to aid males in determining sexual receptiveness, allowing them to touch the clitoris and smell their fingers to pick up chemical or olfactory cues to the female's reproductive status.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Mammalia
Order:Primates
Family:Atelidae
Genus:Ateles
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