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Red-faced spider monkey

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Red-faced spider monkey
Ateles paniscus sitting.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Ateles paniscus

Ateles paniscus sitting on a rock
Ateles paniscus sitting 2.jpg

The Red-faced Spider Monkey is a species of spider monkey known by the scientific name Ateles paniscus. They inhabit the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, and are also found north of the Amazon River and east of the Rio Negro.[1]


Ateles paniscus in natural habitat

Red-faced spider monkeys have long, silky black hairs that cover their entire body, except for their faces. Their long hair is what distinguishes them from other species of spider monkeys, but there are other important characteristics too. The adults have red or pink-skinned faces which are exposed except for a few short white hairs around their mouth. As infant, they do not have pinkish faces like the adults but fairly dark skin on their faces that gets lighter as they age. Red-faced spider monkeys are among the largest of the New World monkeys and are long-limbed and appear somewhat tall; the longer arms [2] , and the long looking legs, and tails is a hint of the their common name spider monkey.

Red-faced spider monkeys are some of the largest of the spider monkeys. The wild males weigh an average of 23.8 lb and are an average of 1.83 ft tall and wild females weigh an average of 21.3 lb and an average of 1.81 ft tall.


Both male and female red-faced spider monkey [3] reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 years old and reproduce sexually [4] in the missionary position, which is rare with primates. They gives birth to a single offspring at a time. The development period of a baby red-faced spider monkey is an average of 7.5 months and only cared for by the mother. [5] 25 to 42 months pass before the females can have offspring again, which is one of the longest in non-apes species. The mass of the offspring is on average 15.93oz (452.50 g). The groups are usually made up of 15 adult females, 5 adult males, and an assortment of young. The males mate with multiple females and work together to defend access to females. Mating occurs randomly, and has no dominance hierarchy. When the infants stops getting fed is typically at 12-15 months but the young do not reach independence until at least 17 months of age. [6]


Ateles paniscus is looking

The red-faced Spider Monkey is almost always seen undisturbed. Red-faced Spider Monkey lives in the upper layers of the rainforest and scavenges in the high canopy, 82.0 to 98.4 ft, in groups of [7] solitary, all male, all female (with or without infants), and mixed-sex, but the dominant females of the group determine the scavenging behavior of the group. The average group size is about 18 individuals.[8] The red-faced spider monkey tends to favor and mainly eat ripe fruit[9], but they also eat leaves, flowers, and insects. Red-faced spider monkeys are important seed dispersers for the rainforest ecosystem and play an important role in restoring tropical forests. Compared to other species of primates that are in the same area as them, red-faced spider monkeys show low diet variety in effect of their high level of fruit consumption. Despite their dependence on fruit as the basis of their diet, they increase their fruit consumption during periods of shortage with other food items including flowers, leaves, roots, bulbs, bark and decaying wood, and honey.[10]


A Red-faced spider monkey spends a large amount of time resting. A study analyzed that an average of 45% of the time spent is resting, with feeding happening at 29% of the time and 26% is spent in travel. They have a fusion-fission social group, this is where the large group spends most of their time in small groups, but they work as a large group to defend their area. Most likely, splitting them up allows a greater chance to find scattered resources. [11]

Other names

There are lots of names for the A. paniscus. They are known in English as: red-faced spider monkey or red-faced black spider monkey, Dutch: kwatta, French: atèle noir, Spanish: macaco aranha, mono arena, or mono araña negro, Swedish: rödansiktad spindelapa. [12]

Spider Monkeys

Main Article: Spider monkey

Counting the red-faced spider monkey, there are seven other species of spider monkeys known today as the A. belzebuth, A. chamek, A. hybridus, A. marginatus, A. fusciceps, and A. geoffroyi. All of those spider monkeys are found in Central or South America, and at one time were all classified as subspecies of the A. paniscus.

Some taxonomists recognize only four species of spider monkeys, which contains A. geoffroyi, A. hybridus, A. belzebuth, and A. paniscus, which left A. fusciceps as a subspecies of A. geoffroyi and A. marginatus and A. chamek as subspecies of A. belzebuth.[13] The Ateles paniscus males are usually larger than the females. [14]


  • Ateles paniscus Carl Flink, Animal Diversity web, 2010/02/21.
  • Black spider monkey Kristina Cawthon Lang, Primate Info Net, April 10, 2007.
  • Flickr emenafoto, Henrique de Brito, tim ellis,, Ana_Cotta, Rαfαel Acorsi., Flickr, Jun 15, 2007, Dec 30, 2008, Sep 7, 2008/Feb 14, 2009, Jun 27, 2009, July 6, 2008, Jul 24, 2009 .
  • Black Spider Monkey the, May 12, 2007.