The emperor tamarin has nonopposable thumbs and the nails of the digits are claw-like except for the first digit on each toe. Unlike the marmosets, this species, like all tamarins, has canines that are larger than the incisors, and their teeth morphology does not allow them to gnaw into the bark for gum (exudates) like the marmosets (Fleagle, 1988). The emperor tamarin has a gray coat color with a red tail and a white moustache.
The emperor tamarin forages for a number of food items including: insects, ripe fruits, gum (exudates), and nectar (Kinzey, 1997). When they feed on exudates (gum) they cling vertically with their claws embedded into the bark of the tree (Kinzey, 1997). They can only forage upon exudates (gum) that is already coming out of the tree by other means (Kinzey, 1997). The emperor tamarin forages on insects in the lower and middle levels of the forest canopy on leaves and branches (Garber, 1993). The emperor tamarin forages on fruits and nectar on small and medium sized branches which are located on the periphery, or the edge, of a tree (Terborgh, 1983). This is a diurnal species.
The emperor tamarin has a multimale-multifemale social system (Kinzey, 1997). The groups consist of unrelated adults, and the main mating system is polyandry, with monogamy and polygyny being reported (Kinzey, 1997). The offspring are cared for by all adult group members, which includes the males (Kinzey, 1997). The emperor tamarin forms mixed-species associations with Saguinus fuscicollis (Kinzey, 1997). These mixed-species associations may serve to assist in protecting from predators (Kinzey and Cunningham, 1994).
circumanal marking: This is when a emperor tamarin rubs the substrate with the circumanal areas in a sitting position; this is the most frequent marking behavior for this species (Epple et al., 1993).
social grooming: When one individual grooms another. This is used to reinforce the social bonds between individuals.
Burton, Frances. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.
Epple, G., Belcher, A.M., Kuderling, I., Zeller, U., Scolnick, L., Greenfield, K.L., Smith III, A.B. 1993. Making Sense Out of Scents: Species Differences in Scent Glands, Scent-marking Behaviour, and Scent-mark Composition in the Callitrichdae. in Marmosets and Tamarins: Systematics, Behaviour, and Ecology. ed. Anthony B. Rylands, Oxford University Press.
Fleagle, John G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.
Garber, P.A. 1993. Feeding, Ecology, and Behaviour of the Genus Saguinus. in Marmosets and Tamarins: Systematics, Behaviour, and Ecology. ed Anthony B. Rylands. Oxford University Press.
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Terborgh, J. 1983. Five New World Primates: A Study in Comparative Ecology. Princeton University Press.