Saturday, May 13, 2006


In general monkeys are of the animal species of the suborder Anthropoidea. These suborders have two separate infraoder that “evolved depending on each other for 30,000,000 years” (1), namely the Platyrrhini and the Catarrhini. The Platyrrhini is the scientific name for the new world monkey and catarrhini is for the old world monkey (1). The old world monkeys are from the super family Cercopithecidea, they were found on the continents of Africa and Asia (5).

The new world monkeys are found in Central and South America (5). There are about four families of primates namely, the Cebidae, Aotidae, Pitheciidae and Atelidae and these families are called the Platyrrhini parvorder (5).

These two groups of species can be differentiated from each other by their physical appearance (1). The new world monkeys are recognized of their long tails, which are often prehensile (2). Their tails can not be seen from a long distance nor can they be easily seen (2). The new world monkeys are able to use their tails as their third hand (2).

The tails of the old monkeys are easily observed; “they never had prehensile tails” (2). Another difference between the two monkeys is their body; the old world monkeys have a “large body size as compared to the new world monkeys” (5).

The noses of the Platyrrhines are flat as compared to the ones of the catarrhines, their nostrils are separated by a “wide septum, while those of the catarrhines are separated by a small septum” (1). The molars of the platyrrhines consist of three and are larger than those of the catarrhines which have two and these are sharply connected cusps (4).

Besides the physical characteristics of this species, they can also be differentiated by their behaviours. The males of the platyrrhines are involved in the infant care, most of the time the male platyrrhines care for the infants and “they give them to the females for nursing” (3). The old world monkey male does not take care of the infants. (3).

The platyrrhines are confined to arboreal habitats and are herbivorous; they only eat “leaves, fruits, nuts, gums and occasional small prey such as insects (3). While the catarrhines tolerate wider habitats, couples of them spend most or some of their day on the ground (3). These monkeys have hairless callous pads, “on their rumps which may be adaptations for sitting or sleeping for long periods on rough branches and stones’ and the new world monkeys do not have these callouses” (3).

The old world monkeys have bright colourful colours especially on their faces; whereas the new world monkeys have dark colours (3).

In conclusion, it is easy to differentiate the old world from the new world monkeys simply by their appearance, when you are distanced from them you can see the differences in their colours, and body weight and when you are closer you can see that their facial appearances are also different.


1. Wikipedia contributors. Monkeys. [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 12, 08:30 UTC [cited 2006 May 12, 15:15]. Available from: [].

2. “New World Monkey.” WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 24 May 2006.

3. Anon, Introduction to Physical Anthropology [Internet]. The new and old world monkeys, UD [cited 2006 May 12]. Available from:

4. Wikipedia contributors. Monkeys. [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 12, 10:40 UTC [cited 2006 May 12, 15:15]. Available from, [].

5. Wikipedia contributors. Monkeys. [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 12, 11:00 UTC [cited 2006 May 12, 15:15]. Available from, [].

Ms Evelyn Maleka
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