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Monkeys are haplorhine ("dry-nosed") primates, a paraphyletic group generally possessing tails and consisting of approximately 260 known living species. Many monkey species are tree-dwelling (arboreal), although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Most species are also active during the day (diurnal). Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent, particularly Old World monkeys.
Lemurs, lorises, and galagos are not monkeys; instead they are strepsirrhine ("wet-nosed") primates. Like monkeys, tarsiers are haplorhine primates; however, they are also not monkeys. There are two major types of monkey: New World monkeys (platyrrhines) from South and Central America and Old World monkeys (catarrhines of the superfamily Cercopithecoidea) from Africa and Asia. Hominoid apes (gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans), which all lack tails, are also catarrhines but are not considered monkeys. (Tailless monkeys may be called "apes", incorrectly according to modern usage; thus the tailless Barbary macaque is sometimes called the "Barbary ape".) Because Old World monkeys are more closely related to hominoid apes than to New World monkeys, yet the term "monkey" excludes these closer relatives, monkeys are referred to as a paraphyletic group. Simians ("monkeys") and tarsiers emerged within haplorrhines some 60 million years ago. New World monkeys and catarrhine monkeys emerged within the simians some 35 millions years ago. Old World monkeys and Hominoidea emerged within the catarrhine monkeys some 25 millions years ago. Extinct basal simians such as Aegyptopithecus or Parapithecus [35-32 million years ago] are also considered monkeys by primatologists.
Relationship with humans -
The many species of monkey have varied relationships with humans. Some are kept as pets, others used as model organisms in laboratories or in space missions. They may be killed in monkey drives (when they threaten agriculture) or used as service animals for the disabled.
In some areas, some species of monkey are considered agricultural pests, and can cause extensive damage to commercial and subsistence crops. This can have important implications for the conservation of endangered species, which may be subject to persecution. In some instances farmers' perceptions of the damage may exceed the actual damage. Monkeys that have become habituated to human presence in tourist locations may also be considered pests, attacking tourists.
In religion and culture, the monkey often represents quick-wittedness and mischief.
Hanuman, a prominent divine entity in Hinduism, is a human-like monkey god. He bestows courage, strength and longevity to the person who thinks about him or the god Rama. In Buddhism, the monkey is an early incarnation of Buddha but may also represent trickery and ugliness. The Chinese Buddhist "mind monkey" metaphor refers to the unsettled, restless state of human mind. Monkey is also one of the Three Senseless Creatures, symbolizing greed, with the tiger representing anger and the deer lovesickness.
The Sanzaru, or three wise monkeys, are revered in Japanese folklore, together they embody the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".
The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped nature. They placed emphasis on animals and often depicted monkeys in their art.The Tzeltal people of Mexico worshipped monkeys as incarnations of their dead ancestors.Some organizations train capuchin monkeys as service animals to assist quadriplegics and other people with severe spinal cord injuries or mobility impairments. After being socialized in a human home as infants, the monkeys undergo extensive training before being placed with a disabled person. Around the house, the monkeys assist with feeding, fetching, manipulating objects, and personal care.Some are arboreal (living in trees) while others live on the savanna; diets differ among the various species but may contain any of the following: fruit, leaves, seeds, nuts, flowers, eggs and small animals (including insects and spiders).
The most common monkey species found in animal research are the grivet, the rhesus macaque, and the crab-eating macaque, which are either wild-caught or purpose-bred. They are used primarily because of their relative ease of handling, their fast reproductive cycle (compared to apes) and their psychological and physical similarity to humans.The use of monkeys in laboratories is controversial. Animal rights activists claim that their use is cruel and produces little information of value, and there have been many protests byanimal rights and animal welfare groups.