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Lion tamarins
Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Callitrichidae
Genus: Leontopithecus
Lesson, 1840
Type species
Leontopithecus makikina
Lesson, 1840
= Simia rosalia Linnaeus, 1766

Leontopithecus rosalia
Leontopithecus chrysomelas
Leontopithecus chrysopygus
Leontopithecus caissara

  • Leontideus Cabrera, 1956
  • Leontocebus Elliot, 1913

The four species of lion tamarins make up the genus Leontopithecus. They are small New World monkeys named for the mane surrounding their face, similar to the mane of a lion.


Living in the eastern rainforests of Brazil, like all other callitrichids they are arboreal. Lion tamarins weigh up to 900 grams (32 oz) and are about 30 cm (12 in) long, with tails about 45 cm (18 in) long. They jump through trees using their fingers to hold on to branches; they use their claws to dig under the bark to search for insects to eat. They also eat some snakes, small lizards, and small fruits. All are endangered or critically endangered, in part because their habitat has been severely disrupted by human development.

Lion tamarins tend to live in family groups, with both parents sharing different tasks of rearing the yearly twins born to them. The mother nurses her young every two to three hours, and the father carries the babies on his back.

Diurnal tree-dwellers, they sleep in tree cavities at night. They also seek shelter during the hottest part of the day.

Species list

The different species of lion tamarins are easily discernible from each other, based upon the coloration of their fur:

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution Description
Golden Lion Tamarin Leontopithecus rosalia.jpg Leontopithecus rosalia Golden lion tamarin southeastern Brazil golden fur all over, mane sometimes darkening or black
Leontopithecus chrysomelas (portrait).jpg Leontopithecus chrysomelas Golden-headed lion tamarin Bahia, Brazil black fur with golden face, arms, and tail
Black Lion Tamarin 3.jpg Leontopithecus chrysopygus Black lion tamarin or golden-rumped lion tamarin São Paulo, Brazil black fur with a dark gold rump
Leontopithecus caissara.jpg Leontopithecus caissara Superagui lion tamarin or black-faced lion tamarin southeastern Brazil golden fur with black face, arms, and tails
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