How to Identify Monkeys
by ksigler moderator
🐵 Identifying Monkeys and Other Primates at Chimp & See 🐵
Chimps aren't the only primates you'll see here at Chimp & See! There are gorillas, galagos, pottos, and tons of monkeys (or should that be barrels?) Gorillas have their own button on the classification screen, and all other non-chimpanzee primates can be classified as Other (Primate). This is all that's required during classification, however, if you'd like to help out more and learn how to identify and tag the exact species, this guide is for you.
How to use this guide:
Below, you'll find the descriptions of the various monkeys and other non-chimpanzee primates we have seen so far at C&S, grouped by the region of Africa where they were seen (you know, the green maps we see after classifying?) Find the region that matches the site you're currently looking at to see what "other primates" have been identified there so far. There are physical descriptions, images and other details that should help with identification. The exceptions are galagos & pottos -- being small and nocturnal, they're kind of special, so you'll find them at the end.
Keep in mind, this guide is based only on what we've seen so far in our video clips -- not necessarily all the possible species and their actual distributions. If you think you've found something new for a region, look through the other region lists to see if we've seen it elsewhere and if the distribution maps overlap. This guide will continue to be updated as more data becomes available, and, of course, if you have a question about anything, just ask on the discussion boards.
We'd like to tag all primate clips, and it's important to be as accurate as we can. When in doubt, just use the tag #monkey or #need_id, and someone else can review it further. With all tags, note the use of dashes (-) and/or underscores (_) to separate the words. You'll also notice, such as with the mangabeys and baboons, that sometimes 2 tags are used to differentiate between species or sub-species. The order and capitalization of tags is not important. See the full List of Official Tags for specifics.
If you want to start tagging some "other primates," check out the "other-primate" lists for each site. All of those clips have been classified as containing non-chimpanzee primates, but not all of them have individual species tags. See if you can identify them further! And if you see an incorrect tag, add a comment and let us know what you think it should be.
Regions & sites included here (click a region to jump down to its primate list -- sometimes this can be buggy, if so, just scroll down 😃):
- Region A (includes CS4, CS5, RW6, MF7, CD8, LS9, DL11, DB12, AV15)
- Region C (includes SW2)
- Region D (includes QW1, RS13, CF14)
- Others -- galagos, pottos, etc.. These are small nocturnal primates found in many areas.
Distribution map attribution: Authors (Chermundy, Oona Räisänen) and IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, species assessors and the authors of the spatial data. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sooty Mangabey (Cercocebus atys)
The sooty mangabey is gray -- the exact shade varies between individuals, and they occasionally have a brown tinge. The belly is lighter, the hands and feet are darker. The face is grayish pink, bare of fur except for bushy sideburn like whiskers. They have white upper eyelids. The muzzle is darker, varying with age and individuals, sometimes almost black.
Distribution: West Africa, along the coast from Senegal to Ghana. They are the most commonly seen monkey in our West Africa sites. (Confirmed in sites CS5, RW6, MF7, CD8, LS9, DB12, AV15)
Mona Monkey (Cercopithecus (mona) lowei, Cercopithecus (mona) campbelli, Cercopithecus (mona) mona)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #mona_monkey
The mona monkey has a black back with brown shoulders. The throat, belly, and inside all four legs are white. Their faces are white with black masks around the eyes. There are several sub/species of closely related 'mona monkeys', of which we have seen Mona, Campbell's and Lowe's. They have small variations in the face and head coloration (for example, Lowe's are more yellow around the face); they are very hard to tell apart visually.
Distribution: West Africa, from Ghana to Cameroon (Confirmed in sites CS5, RW6, MF7, CD8, LS9, DB12, AV15)
Diana Monkey (Cercopithecus diana)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #diana_monkey
The diana monkey is black, with white and reddish brown accents. The throat, chest, and inside of the front legs are white. They also have a thin white line across the brow, and white stripe down the outside of both thighs. The lower back is a dark reddish brown, and the insides of the thighs are a light reddish brown. If you spot a monkey that looks like a Diana but has a thicker white browband, and a magnificent long white beard, you've spotted the Roloway monkey, an endangered close relative of the Diana Monkey! So far, the Roloway has not been seen in any videos on Chimp & See.
Distribution: West Africa, Sierra Leone to Cote d'Ivoire (Confirmed in sites CS5, RW6, MF7, LS9, AV15)
King Colobus, or Western Black & White Colobus (Colobus polykomos)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #king_colobus
The king colobus is black with white accents, with very long fur. The face is black, with a halo of white fur around it that extends down the throat and chest, and the outside of the upper arm. The long tail is all white.
Distribution: West Africa, from Gambia to Cote d'Ivoire (Confirmed in sites RW6, MF7, AV15)
Olive Colobus (Procolobus verus)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #olive_colobus
The olive colobus is a smaller species, with dull greenish-brown fur on the back and lighter fur on the chest and stomach. They have a small crest on top of their head that sometimes looks like a center part, and their face is dark and hairless. The 2nd example clip below also contains a sooty mangabey for comparison.
Distribution: West Africa, from Sierra Leone to Nigeria (Confirmed in site MF7, AV15)
Greater Spot-nosed Monkey, or White-nosed Guenon (Cercopithecus nictitans)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #spot-nosed_monkey
The greater spot-nosed monkey is black to olive, with white accents, the most notable being the bright white nose. There are two subspecies, one has a white throat, the other does not.
Distribution: West Africa, southern Nigeria, Cameroon, Equitorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, southern Central African Republic and northern Democratic Republic of the Congo. A smaller population is found in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire. (Confirmed in site RW6)
Lesser Spot-nosed Monkey (Cercopithecus petaurista)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #spot-nosed_monkey
The lesser spot-nosed monkey is a dark olive-brown on the back, and white underneath. They have black faces with a white nose, a white stripe below the ear, and a white ark above the ear. The throat, belly, and inside all four legs are white. The outside of the legs darkens to gray-black on the lower limbs.
Distribution: West Africa, Guinea-Bissau to Togo (Confirmed in sites RW6, MF7, CD8, LS9, AV15)
Western Red Colobus (Procolobus badius)
The western red colobus is black and dark reddish brown. The limbs, belly, and throat are reddish brown, with black extending down the outside of the upper limbs. The tail is darker reddish brown. Its face is dark grey-ish. In the third example clip below, you can see, even when moving at a distance, the distinctive dark coloration as compared the sooty mangabeys that are also present.
Distribution: West Africa, from Senegal to Ghana (Confirmed in site MF7, AV15)
Savannah (grassland) habitat only
Green Monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #green_monkey
The green monkey is a medium-sized monkey with light golden fur on the head, back and tail, and lighter gray or white fur on the chest and legs. The face and ears are generally dark, though lighter in younger individuals. It is closely related to the vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) of East Africa, but is considered a different species.
Distribution: West Africa, Senegal south to Sierra Leon, east to the Volta River in western Ghana. It has also been introduced in some Caribbean islands. (Confirmed in site DL11)
Patas Monkey (Erythrocebus patas)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #patas_monkey
The patas monkey is light reddish-brown from the top of their head down the back of their body and their long slender tail. The face, chest and legs are a light to medium gray. They usually have a distinctive black line of fur at the brow line, that may extend toward the ears on either side. Males are much larger, with more dramatic coloration and a mane. It is the fastest-running primate, and as such, is normally see on the ground.
Distribution: West, Central, and East Africa, from southern Mauritania to Guinea in the West to western Ethiopia and parts of Kenya in the East (Confirmed in site DL11)
Guinea Baboon (Papio papio)
Guinea baboons have thick, light reddish-brown fur. Their faces are hairless, with purplish-black skin and a squared muzzle that is typical of baboons. Their rumps are bare and pinkish in color. Males have a mane, though sometimes subtle.
Distribution: West Africa, southern Mauritania and Mali to Guinea and north-western Sierra Leone (Confirmed in site DL11)
Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #mandrill
Mandrills are large monkeys with dark olive or gray fur on the back, and light-colored fur on the chest. They have long faces with red noses and blue striped cheeks. Their rumps are similarly colorful, with shades of pink, blue, and red. Females are smaller, and both females and juveniles show more subtle coloration. Also, unlike most other monkeys, the mandrill's tail is very short -- only a few inches in length.
Distribution: Central Africa, southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo (Confirmed in site SW2)
Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #gorilla
Western gorillas are very large, heavy-bodied primates with dark brown or grayish body hair, black skin on the hands and face, and a reddish-brown foreheads. Adult males have silver hair on their backs and hips, and a pointed-looking skull with a prominent ridge of bone running lengthwise in the center. Compared to chimpanzees, they have a bulkier frame, bare chest, darker (except for gray) more uniform coloration, and lower, more lumbering movement.
Distribution: Central West Africa, including south-eastern Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, south-western Central African Republic, and Gabon (Confirmed in site SW2)
Red-tailed Monkey, or Red-tailed Guenon (Cercopithecus ascanius)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #red-tailed_monkey
Red-tailed monkeys have speckled brownish fur, with a long reddish brown tail. The face is mostly black, with a white nose and white fur on the cheeks. The white cheeks can help differentiate this species from the lesser spot-nosed when seen from a distance. Males are larger than females.
Distribution: Central Africa, including northern Angola, most of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Central African Republic, and parts of Uganda, western Kenya and western Tanzania (Confirmed in site QW1, CF14, GS16)
Blue Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #blue_monkey
Blue monkeys are large, with a grizzled gray to olive coloration. The face is dark and mostly hairless. They have a black "cap" on top of their head, and black forearms and hind feet. The tail is very long.
Distribution: Scattered broadly across Central & East Africa. From Angola & Democratic Republic of Congo eastward to parts of Ethiopia and along the coast to South Africa. There are numerous subspecies and related species, which are reflected as one in the map below. (Confirmed in RS13, CF14)
Olive Baboon (Papio anubis)
These baboons have a greenish-gray fur with infants being born with a black coat that changes color. Skin on the rump and face is dark grey-black. Adult males have pronounced manes, with long hair on the tops of their heads and shoulders.
Distribution: Across equatorial Africa, found in Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia, and extending southward into Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Congo (Confirmed in QW1, CF14, GS16)
Yellow Baboon (Papio cynocephalus)
This primate has yellow-brown fur, with the characteristic dog-like, elongated muzzle typical of baboons. They also have a prominent brow ridge which is covered in yellow-grayish fur but the rest of the face is hairless. There is less hair on the undersides and longer hair along the sides in adults. Rumps and face are blackish in color.
Distribution: Central-East Africa, found in Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and Somalia (Not yet seen, but soon!)
Mantled Guereza, or Eastern Black & White Colobus (Colobus guereza)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #guereza
The guereza is a large monkey with a glossy black coat and a white beard-like chin. It also has a striking "cape" of long flowing white hair on the sides of its back, and a fluff of white at the end of its tail. Infants are all white. They are primarily seen in trees, as opposed to on the ground.
Distribution: West-Central & East Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon east to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and northern Tanzania. (Confirmed in RS13, CF14, GS16)
L'Hoest's Monkey, or Mountain Monkey (Cercopithecus lhoesti)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #lhoests_monkey
This monkey is mostly black with some grizzled gray, except for a reddish-brown ‘saddle’ on its back and a white beard covering its throat. It has long legs, and a long gray tail that tapers to a black tuft. The face is mostly hairless, with a lighter gray mask around the eyes, which may be orange or pale gray-violet. Males are up to twice the size of females, and have a bright blue scrotum.
Distribution: Small range in Central Africa. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Confirmed in RS13, GS16)
Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #gorilla
Eastern gorillas are very large, heavy-bodied primates with black body hair, and black skin on the face and hands. Older adult males have silver hair on their backs and hips. Compared to chimpanzees, they have a bulkier frame, bare chest, darker (except for gray) more uniform coloration, and lower, more lumbering movement.
Distribution: Eastern Central Africa, including Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (Confirmed in site RS13)
Grey-cheeked mangabey (Lophocebus albigena)
Grey-cheeked mangabeys have predominantly blackish fur, with a very long tail that is often held vertically when standing. They have a greyish-light brown mantle (“mane”) of long hair extending from the neck to the shoulders. The black face is naked, only the cheeks are very thinly haired. Females have a distinctive pink swelling when in oestrus.
Distribution: With geographic variations found in Central Africa from the Cameroon-Nigeria border eastwards to Western Uganda (Confirmed in site GS16)
Red colobus (Procolobus tephrosceles)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #red_colobus
The Ugandan red colobus has a bright red cap and a dark grey face. Infants are born with black faces and lighter fur. The fur coloration is quite variable with a dark grey back and lighter legs and arms. The belly is light-grey to white. The tail is dark, as are hands and feet. Males are much larger than the females.
Distribution: Uganda and Tanzania (Confirmed in site GS16)
Agile mangabey (Cercocebus agilis)
Agile mangabeys have short, light olive-colored to greyish fur. The belly and inner limbs are lighter. The face is black and naked, as are hands and feet. Some small white tufts of hair are seen at the cheeks and forehead.
Distribution: Central Africa: Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, and DR Congo (Confirmed in site QW1)
Galago, or Bush Baby (Galago demidovii and others)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #galago
Galagos are not monkeys, but are also classified as Other (Primate). They are part of a more primitive group of primates, along with lemurs, sometimes referred to as prosimians. We believe the galagos we've seen are dwarf galagos, though there are several species with similar distribution. Galagos are nocturnal, so the first thing you may see are its large round eyes glowing from a tree. They are very small and furry, with round prominent ears and a fur-covered tail that is longer than the body. They climb and jump exceptionally well. If you see something that looks like a small squirrel at night, it may be a galago!
Distribution: West and Central Africa, from Sengal through the entire southern part of West Africa and throughout Central Africa to Uganda (Confirmed in sites MF7, CD8, DL11, DB12, RS13)
Potto (Perodicticus potto)
Tag/Keyword Collection: #potto
The potto is another type of primate, nocturnal like the galago, but larger. It has a short tail, thick fur, large round eyes and lobster-claw like hands that it uses to grasp branches. It climbs slowly through the tree canopy, rather than jumping, and is rarely, if ever, on the ground.
Distribution: West and Central Africa, from Sierra Leone and south-eastern Guinea through the entire southern part of West Africa and throughout Central Africa to south-western Kenya. (Confirmed in sites CD8, LS9, CF14)