Brown-headed Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps)

The brown-headed spider monkey has a prehensile tail, which it uses for grasping when feeding and when moving through the forest. Male long-haired spider monkeys lack a baculum, which is unusual for most primates (Dixson, 1987). This is a sexually monomorphic species. The brown-headed spider monkey has long and slender limbs especially the forelimbs, which are used in suspensory locomotion (Fleagle, 1988). This species lacks a pollex (a thumb).

This species is found in more wet than dry forests and is also found in evergreen tropical rainforests (Hershkovitz, 1977). This species prefers to live in the upper levels of the canopy (Fleagle, 1988). This species is found in the countries of Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama.

The brown-headed spider monkey is a frugivorous species, which tends to favor ripe fruits. This species does also eat leaves. This species forages in subgroups of 1-6 individuals, and these groups are of the following types: solitary, all male, all female (with or without infants), and mixed-sex (Kinzey, 1997).

The brown-headed spider monkey moves through the forest both in a quadrupedal and suspensory fashion (Fleagle, 1988). This species can also walk bipedal along tree branches and have been known to leap between trees and branches (Fleagle, 1988).

The brown-headed spider monkey has a multimale-multifemale social system (Kinzey, 1997). The males are philopatric and the females disperse for this species (Kinzey, 1997).

long call: This call is only emitted by males and may be heard up to 500 meters (Symington, 1987). This call is used to communicate spacing between subgroups, isolation from a subgroup, it is also used as an alarm call (van Roosmalen, 1985). This call also functions to bring members from ones subgroup to a feeding site (Chapman and Lefebvre, 1990).


staring open-mouth face: This is where the eyes are opened wide, the mouth is open with the teeth covered by the lips (Jolly, 1972). This occurs when mobbing a predator or serves to communicate an inhibited threat (Jolly, 1972).

staring bared-teeth scream face: This is where the eye are opened wide, the mouth is open with the corners drawn back so that the teeth and gums are revealed (Jolly, 1972). This display occurs with terror flight (Jolly, 1972).

silent bared-teeth face: This is where the eyes are staring at the stimulus, the eye brows are either relaxed or up, and the corners of the mouth are drawn back allowing the teeth to show (Jolly, 1972). This is used to communicate submission or a friendly approach (Jolly, 1972). This display is also seen during attacking (Jolly, 1972).

pout face: This is where the eyes are opened wide and the lips are pushed forward such that the mouth resembles an "O" shape (Jolly, 1972). This occurs with contact calls and also occurs with begging (Jolly, 1972).

relaxed open mouth face: This is where the eyes are normal or narrow and the mouth is open wide with the corners being up (Jolly, 1972). This behavior is seen during play (Jolly, 1972).

social grooming: This is where one individual grooms another, and this serves to reinforce the social bonds between the individuals.

The brown-headed spider monkey gives birth to a single offspring. The young are only cared for by the mother (Fleagle, 1988). This species copulates in the missionary position which is rare among primates.

Burton, F. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.

Chapman, C.A. and Lefebvre, L. 1990. Manipulating Foraging Group Size: Spider Monkey Food Calls at Fruiting Trees. Animal Behaviour. Vol. 39, 891-896.

Dixson, A.F. 1987. Baculum Length and Copulatory Behavior in Primates. American Journal of Primatology. Vol. 13, 51-60.

Fleagle, J. G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.

Hershkovitz, P. 1977. Living New World Monkeys (Platyrrhini) with an Introduction to Primates, Vol 1. University of Chicago Press.

Jolly, A. 1972. The Evolution of Primate Behavior. Macmillan Publishing Co., N.Y.

Kinzey, W.G. 1997. Ateles. in New World Primates: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. ed. Warren G. Kinzey, Aldine de Gruyter, New York.

Symington, M.M. 1987. Long-distance Vocal Communication in Ateles: Functional Hypotheses and Preliminary Evidence. International Journal of Primatology. Vol. 8, 475.

van Roosmalen, M.G.M. 1985. Habitat Preferences, Diet, Feeding Strategy and Social Organization of the Black Spider Monkey (Ateles paniscus paniscus Linnaeus 1758) in Surinam. Acta Amazonica. Vol. 15 (3/4 suppl.), 1-238.

Last Updated: April 22, 2004.
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