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What is a Snub-Nosed Monkey?

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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Snub-nosed monkeys are a type of old world monkey of the genus Rhinopithecus. These animals inhabit the mountains of Asia, living mostly off fruits and leaves. Some species of snub-nosed monkey include Rhinopithecus strykeri and the golden snub-nosed monkey. All members of the Rhinopithecus genus are endangered.

Making up the entirety of the genus Rhinopithecus, snub-nosed monkeys are named as such because of their upturned nose with the tip facing upward toward their foreheads. There are a number of species in the genus, all sharing similar nose structures. Their fur is often multicolored and long, and they live in large groups, mostly in trees, and consume bamboo buds, tree needles, fruits and leaves.

These monkeys are a type of old world monkey, and are more closely related to apes than new world monkeys. Old world monkeys generally live in Africa, south Asia, and parts of Japan and Northern China. Snub-nosed monkeys come from the mountain forests of Asia, especially southern China and northern Vietnam Old world monkeys do not have prehensile tails and sometimes have no tails at all. They have nostrils that are close together, and some have thick pads on the buttocks.

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The golden snub-nosed monkey is a common species of Rhinopithecus with a coat that ranges in color from yellow, red, and orange to darker colors like black and dark brown. Their muzzles are white and hairless, and the area around the eyes may be a light blue. Their fur can be quite long, especially in adult males, whose back hair can grow to be 22 inches (55 centimeters) long. Adult males can also develop wart-like growths on the corners of their mouths, a trait unique to the golden snub-nosed monkey.

One species of snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus strykeri, has prominent lips and especially wide, upturned nostrils. Their nostrils are so upturned that when it rains, water is able to easily enter their nostrils, causing them to sneeze. On rainy days these monkeys, which are found in the eastern Himalayas to Northeastern Kachin State, will sit with their heads between their knees to prevent water from getting into their noses.

All species of snub-nosed monkeys are considered endangered. This is due to several factors including deforestation and an encroaching human population. It is also common for these animals to be hunted for food and medicinal purposes.

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