I've been scratching my proverbial primate noggin looking for the perfect monkey to create for the October OrnaMonkey in the monkey of the month club.
For those of you who haven't seen them before, they are palm-sized monkey faces made from felt that resemble actual monkey species. I create one per month, choosing unique monkeys some of which are familiar to people and many of which are brand new.
This month, I've settled on three candidates: the night monkey, Hamlyn's owl-faced guenon, and the saki monkey.
I like them all for various reasons. But, I would love for you to vote and tell me which species you think should be the October OrnaMonkey.
He's a charming little fellow so named because it's a nocturnal species. In fact, it's the only nocturnal monkey. Other primates that are nocturnal are technically prosimians, not monkeys. I say technically, because depending on which system of taxonomy you use, they might be.. but we'll not get into that. I don't know anyone who is as interested in taxonomy as I am. The other thing that is notable about these monkeys is that they are the animal subject of choice for research in to the herpes virus. Their eyes are incredibly sensitive to it. Male and female night monkeys are almost completely indistinguishable - a rarity among primates. This is one of the main reasons they are believed to be socially and sexually monogamous.
Hamlyn's owl-faced guenon
These monkeys are so named for their distinctive face. Aside from what is known about them from captive observation in zoos, which isn't much, vanishingly little is know about this species. They live only in a tiny area of eastern Congo, near where mountain gorillas live. But, their habitat is not protected and also happens to be where millions of refuges of the area's civil wars have fled, hungry and cold. The monkeys are hunted for food, further lessening their chances for long term survival. Now one other thing about these monkeys, like many monkeys with interesting faces - they have equally interesting looking hind ends. You can read more about them here.
I have to say I'm pretty partial to these monkeys. They look like a monkey version of Newfoundlands with their very, very shaggy black coats. The male and female saki monkeys don't even look like they are the same species. This extreme sexual dichromatism (different color morphs) is very, very rare. Males and females sing together, an activity primatologists call duetting. It's a very good indication of strong pair bonds and social monogamy, if not actual sexual monogamy.
Personally, I'm disinclined to chose the night monkey because they look very similar to another species I chose recently - the slow loris. And, I have already chosen primates that are nocturnal and also those that are monogamous. What I like about the last 2 choices is that their faces are totally unique and each has a story that educates OrnaMonkeys collectors a little more.
Of course, I haven't yet done a gibbon, so they are yet another option to consider for November. I'm thinking a moloch gibbon or pileated gibbon. The snow monkey or Japanese macaque is the monkey for December.