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New World monkey facts for kids

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New World monkeys
Ateles fusciceps Colombia.JPG
Black-headed spider monkey
with its prehensile tail
Scientific classification

Geoffroy, 1812

New World monkeys are the families of primates which are found in Central and South America. The families are ranked together as the Ceboidea superfamily, the only living platyrrhine superfamily. They differ from the Old World monkeys and apes, which are Catarrhini.


About 40 million years ago, the simians split into the groups: the Platyrrhini (New World monkeys) and Catarrhini (apes and Old World monkeys). The key question is how did the early monkeys get to the Americas? There is at present no evidence for either of the two possible routes. Route one is across the then less wide Atlantic. Route two is across Asia, across the Bering Strait, and down through North America.

There are some big differences between the two groups of monkeys. New World monkeys have noses of flatter shape with nostrils facing to the side. Most do not have full colour vision, they have a different dental formula, many form monogamous pair bonds, with paternal care for the young, mostly, twin births are common, and their thumbs are not opposable. The Atelidae family have long tails that can grip things.

Related pages

List of New World monkey species

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Platyrrhini para niños

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