The Black Spider
Monkey is a species of South American monkeys that fall under the genus Ateles of the spider monkeys. These are one
of the larger New World monkeys that are rarely found these days as a result of
their quick decline in population especially because of hunting and human encroachment
on its range of habitation.
Size: The head and body length is typically between 39.3 and 53.8 cm (15.5 and 21.2 in), excluding tail.
average masses of the male and the female are 8.89 kilograms (19.6 lb) and 8.8
kilograms (19 lb), respectively.
possess a slim and slender structure entirely covered with long, dense and
glossy body hair, giving them an ape-like appearance.
Head: The face is rounded with a short and blunt snout area,
moderately large nostrils and earlobes,
and round eyes.
Tail: The tail is
very long that measures between 71.0 and 85.5 cm (28.0 and 33.7 in).
Sexual Dimorphism: No
visible differences between the sexes can be noted.
They have been known to live for 22 to 25 years in the wild,
and up to 35 years in captivity.
Habitat: Where do Black Spider Monkeys Live
The black spider monkeys are
found in the dense rainforests of Central and South America.
Classification & Differences between the
Subspecies by Range/Distribution
Depending upon their features and geographic location, the
black spider monkeys have been divided
under two subspecies:
Ateles fusciceps fusciceps – the population that resides in northwestern Ecuador and have black
or brown body fur/coat and a brown head, and
Ateles fusciceps rufiventris – the population to the southwest
of Colombia extending to eastern Panama and have an entirely black body
hair with some white marks on the chin.
The black spider monkeys are a diurnal species that are
primarily arboreal (live in trees). They have mastered the brachiation
technique (swinging by the arms from branch to branch) and are excellent
climbers as well.
Like most other primates, they sleep at night. During the
day, they associate with each other in groups comprising of around 20
individuals. The group is rather loosely packed
since they are rarely seen gathered in
Each group forms a
subgroup of different sizes, while they move through the forests using all
their four arms. When they walk, they are seen
in an upright position along the branches. Their highest recorded speed (leap) is
approximately 9 meters (30 ft.).
Sounds and Communication
Spider monkeys can emit different sounds and calls to
communicate. They can give out sobbing sounds and screams, or even barking
noises to alert others or draw their attention for help, if they feel threatened.
Diet: What Do Black-Headed Spider Monkeys Eat
They are primarily, herbivore, or more precisely, folivore and
frugivore, living on especially plant foods including leaves, seeds, grains,
nuts, and fruits. However, because they
also feed on some animal foods like eggs and insects, occasionally, they are
Reproduction & Life Cycle
As the mating season approaches, the female black spider
monkeys may move on to consort with a single male partner for up to three days,
or else mate with multiple partners. The act of mating takes place with the
male and the female facing each other, which might last for five to ten minutes.
As the female gets pregnant, the gestation period lasts for 226
to 232 days. After the infant is born, it is taken care of by its parents until it is
able to forage for its own food
and can become independent.
The baby monkey would move with its mother, riding on the
latter’s back. This continues for up to
around 16 weeks. It takes almost 20 months for the baby to be weaned.
The male juveniles take around 56 months to attain the age
of sexual maturity, while the females take around 51 months. Once matured, the
females can give birth every three years.
The skull structure is
such that they have forward facing eyes. This feature allows them to gauge
distances precisely while swinging from one tree to another.
The arms are adapted for climbing as they lack thumbs,
which increases their strength to grip, helping them with climbing easily.
They have a prehensile tail,
adapted to grasping or holding, i.e., they have
the ability to hang down from the branches with the sole help of
Also, the underside of the
tail tip does not have hair, and is ridged and wrinkled, further assisting
them in gripping.
The primary predators of these primates are pumas, jaguars,
large snakes, and ocelots.
The black-headed spider monkey has been marked as ‘CR’ (Critically
Endangered) by the IUCN 3.1 because of their estimated population loss of over 80%
in a span of 45 years.
They have the strongest
tail in the animal kingdom.
Black spider monkey gets its
name from its ability to hang from the trees with the help of its long
tail, much like a spider is seen hanging using its silk.
These primates serve an
important ecological purpose in South America by dispersing the undigested
seeds through their manure, thus sprouting and replenishing the rainforest