White-Bellied Spider Monkey (Ateles belzebuth) Classification: Class: Mammalia, Order: Primates, Family: Atelidae, Genus: Ateles, Species: belzebuth
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
The IUCN has listed White-Bellied Spider Monkeys as vulnerable, which means that this species' population has declined by more than 30% in its last three generations. These monkeys have long slender limbs and mobile shoulder joints which allow for hand-over-hand swinging amongst branches. A flexible tail, which is capable of grasping, acts as an extra limb. Their coats are dark brown to black, while the under-parts and hind-limbs tend to be much paler.
These monkeys are known to inhabit tropical and sub-tropical lowland and piedmont areas in Brasil, Colombia, Equador and Peru. Due to their preferences for lowland tropical areas (where human colonization is most common), White-Bellied Spider Monkeys have been particularly affected by recent development.
White-Bellied Spider Monkeys are diurnal (active during the day) and feed primarily on fruits, although leaves, seeds, and invertebrates are also commonly consumed. These monkeys live in groups consisting of about 20 members that branch off into subgroups of 4 or 5 for foraging and eating. The males often band together to defend their territory against competing groups. Mating occurs throughout the year. Once females reach maturity, they move away from their natal groups (the groups where they were born), which is an evolutionary defense against inbreeding.
These monkeys eat the decaying wood and mud used by termites to build nests for reasons that are not understood. When food is scarce, they will often open unripe fruits to accelerate the ripening process (http://www.spider-monkeys.com). Hunting and deforestation are the primary threats to this species.
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