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13 Different Types of Monkeys from Around the World

A monkey wandering on the forest.

Monkeys are one of the most beloved animal species in the world due to their friendly and playful nature. Did you know: the word monkey originates from a German character called Moneke, who is the son of an ape in Reynard the Fox fable?

Originally, there was no major distinction between apes and monkeys, and they were considered one and same species. Some regions still use the words ‘ape’ and ‘monkey’ as synonyms, however, ape and monkeys are two distinct species.

In the 20th century, more research on evolution led to a clear distinction between primates; and monkeys were established as the first link in the evolution of humans.

Scientific classifications of monkeys are now based on a system on monophyletic grouping. This means that all monkeys are considered as a common descendant of one common ancestor. There are two main types of monkeys: New World monkeys and Old World monkeys; the former come from South and Central America while the latter is mainly found in Asia and Africa.

Monkey Types Chart

Monkey types chart

Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin monkey on a tree.

Capuchin monkeys are from the New Work monkey group and come under the subfamily called Cebinae. They are really popular in popular culture since they have been used in many movies and television shows such as Friends.

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They are kept as pets in a lot region but they can be very messy and aggressive; capuchin monkeys require a lot of training so that they can be kept as a pet. They are mostly found in Central and South America.

They usually live on the coast of Costa Rica and Panama along the wet lowland forests. They also thrive near the Pacific coast, dwelling in the dry forests of the region.

Marmoset Monkeys

Wild Marmoset monkeys sitting on a log.

Marmosets are from the New World monkey species and are also called zaris. Marmosets are small monkeys, growing an average of 8 inches in height. They are on the primitive side with nails rather than claws and tactile hair on their wrists.

Their brain layout resembles other relatively primitive species and they have no wisdom teeth. They are mainly found in South America and can be raised as pets, although it is discouraged. They have a very active nature and live on a diet of insects, fruits, and leaves.

Tamarin Monkey

Tamarin monkey sitting on a branch.

Tamarins are really small New World monkeys that come from the family of Callitrichidae. They have facial hair that looks like a mustache and they grow from 13 cm to 30 cm. They have lower canine teeth and are mainly found in Central and South America. They are omnivorous creatures with a diet of fruits, plants, insects, bird eggs, and small vertebrates.

Lion Tamarins

Wild Lion Tamarin hugging a tree.

Tamarins have different sub-species including the beautiful orange-golden colored Lion Tamarins. Lion Tamarins can grow up to 30 cm in height and weigh up to 900 grams.

They use their fingers to hold on to branches and search for insects to eat with their claws. This species also consumes small fruits, small lizards, and snakes. They are under the list of critically endangered or endangered.


Gorilla on a forest.

Gorillas dwell on the ground and are mainly herbivorous apes. They live in the Sub-Saharan African regions and have two main types: Eastern and Western. Both these species have four to five more subspecies which are all critically endangered.

They are the largest living primates in the world and match human DNA at least 95% to 99%. They are really intelligent creatures and can learn painting, sign language, and process human emotions and concepts. They live in tropical or subtropical forests of Sub-Saharan Africa and live in a wide range of elevations from mountains to lowland swamps.

Proboscis Monkey

Proboscis monkey with baby.

Proboscis monkeys are also commonly known as long-nosed monkeys. They are Old World reddish-brown monkeys who have an unusually large nose. They are commonly found in a Southeast Asian island called Borneo. They live peacefully with Bornean orangutans and are the largest monkey species in Asia.

They can grow up to 76 cm and weigh up to 12 kg. They iconic noses can grow up to 10 cm in length and have budging stomachs that look like pot bellies.

They aren’t aggressive species, even the males and replacement of males can occur without any serious aggression. Females of the species have a linear order of dominance and may leave the group to elevate their status.


A walking male baboon.

Baboons are part of the Old World monkey species and belong to the family of Papio. They are native to the regions of the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. They have five main species including the Mandrill baboons. Baboons have powerful jaws, canine teeth, muzzles, and thick fur. They have hairless protruding buttocks which provide comfort for baboons while sitting.

They are very terrestrial and mostly roam on the ground in woodlands, savannahs, and hills. They are omnivorous and have a diet of insects, fruits, plants, and sometimes even fish, birds, hare, and small antelopes.  

They have a lifespan of 30 years in the wild but can live up to 45 years in captivity. Baboons can learn orthographic skills, which allow them the relative ability to read.

Mandrill Baboon

A colorful Mandrill baboon.

The Mandrill monkeys are from the Old World Money species and come from the family of Cercopithecidae. They look like baboons and are found in African regions like Congo, Gabon, and Cameroon. They reside in tropical rainforests and co-exist in large groups. They have an omnivorous diet of insects and fruits but are also known to eat leaves and stems for fiber.

They are classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN. The Mandrill baboons have colorful hair ranging from pink, purple, red, and blue around their noses and butts. Although intra-group conflicts are rare when they do occur they can be deadly.

Hamadryas Baboon

Hamadryas baboon sitting on top of a log.

The Hamadryas baboon is part of the Old World monkey species. They are mostly found in the Northern parts of Africa and the Southwestern area of the Arabian Peninsula. These regions have the lowest rates of natural predators, which give the Hamadryas baboon an advantage over other baboon species.

The Hamadryas has a significant role in ancient Egyptian religion, which is why it is also known as the sacred baboon. They are omnivorous creatures since food is difficult to find in the dry seasons of the region they exist in.


Orangutans playing on the tree.

Orangutans are native of Malaysia and Indonesia. They live in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo and come under the family of Pongo. They have three main subspecies: Tapanuli orangutan, Bornean orangutan, and Sumatran orangutan. They spend most of their time in the trees and have reddish-brown hair.

Orangutans avoid groups and are solitary creatures. The only social bond they have is between a mother and a child. They live primarily on a diet of fruit but are known to eat honey, bark, vegetation, insects, and bird eggs.

They have a life span of 30 years and are one of the most intelligent primates. They are listed as critically endangered due to loss of habitat, illegal trading, and many other issues.

Macaque Monkey

Macaque monkey eating a banana.

The Macaques monkeys are part of the Old World monkey species and come from a subfamily called Cercopithecinae. They live throughout North Africa, Asia, and in the smaller region of Gibraltar.

They adapt easily to most environments and are found in all sorts of habitats throughout Asian. Their groups are based on a matriarchal structure under a dominant female. They are one of the most invasive species and learn to live among humans for food and shelter. They can swim and usually roam on the ground.


Chimpanzees scratching each other's back.

Chimpanzees have coarse black hair but their fingers, palms, toes, soles, and face are bare. They weigh up to 65 kg and can grow to be 94 cm. The infants have a close relationship with the mother, even after they have weaned at the age of 3.

They can live up to 40 years in the wild and live in groups of 15-150 members. They have a strict patriarchal structure of the hierarchy, which means that disputes are settled without violence.

They are intelligent creatures known to makeshift tools from grass, leaves, sticks, and rocks to gather food. They can even make spears from sharpened sticks to hunt for small animals for food like Senegal bush babies.  They are an endangered species and only around 170,000 and 300,000 chimpanzees are estimated to be living over the world.


Gibbon sitting on a log.

Gibbon monkeys are part of the Hylobatidae family and have 18 different subspecies. They reside in the rainforests of Eastern Bangladesh, Northeast India, Southern China, and Indonesia. They are tailless and have long-term mates.

They remain mostly up in trees and are commonly seen swinging around from branch to branch. They are really fast animals and can walk bi-pedaled. Their fur has a brown color or black and white. Rare species of gibbons have completely white fur.

They are social animals and are extremely territorial.  They have really loud voices which can be heard 1 km away and perform duets with their mates. Gibbons are endangered species due to loss of habitat and deforestation.

Monkeys are beautiful creatures that should be protected with better efforts. Strides have been made to protect many different monkey species but they are far from successful as many remain critically endangered.

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