Black-faced Spider Monkey (Ateles chamek)

The black-faced spider monkey has a prehensile tail, which it uses for grasping when feeding and when moving through the forest. Male black-faced spider monkeys lack a baculum, which is unusual for most primates (Dixson, 1987). This is a sexually monomorphic species. The black-faced spider monkey has long and slender limbs especially the forelimbs, which are used in suspensory locomotion (Fleagle, 1988). This species lacks a pollex (a thumb).


The black-faced spider monkey is a frugivorous species, which tends to favor ripe fruits. This species does also eat leaves.

The black-faced spider monkey moves through the forest both in a quadrupedal and suspensory fashion (Fleagle, 1988). This species can also walk bipedal along tree branches and have been known to leap between trees and branches (Fleagle, 1988).

The black-faced spider monkey has a multimale-multifemale social system (Kinzey, 1997). The males are philopatric and the females disperse for this species (Kinzey, 1997).



staring open-mouth face: This is where the eyes are opened wide, the mouth is open with the teeth covered by the lips (Jolly, 1972). This occurs when mobbing a predator or serves to communicate an inhibited threat (Jolly, 1972).

staring bared-teeth scream face: This is where the eye are opened wide, the mouth is open with the corners drawn back so that the teeth and gums are revealed (Jolly, 1972). This display occurs with terror flight (Jolly, 1972).

silent bared-teeth face: This is where the eyes are staring at the stimulus, the eye brows are either relaxed or up, and the corners of the mouth are drawn back allowing the teeth to show (Jolly, 1972). This is used to communicate submission or a friendly approach (Jolly, 1972). This display is also seen during attacking (Jolly, 1972).

pout face: This is where the eyes are opened wide and the lips are pushed forward such that the mouth resembles an "O" shape (Jolly, 1972). This occurs with contact calls and also occurs with begging (Jolly, 1972).

relaxed open mouth face: This is where the eyes are normal or narrow and the mouth is open wide with the corners being up (Jolly, 1972). This behavior is seen during play (Jolly, 1972).

social grooming: This is where one individual grooms another, and this serves to reinforce the social bonds between the individuals.

The black-faced spider monkey gives birth to a single offspring. The young are only cared for by the mother (Fleagle, 1988). This species copulates in the "missionary" position which is rare among primates.

Dixson, A.F. 1987. Baculum Length and Copulatory Behavior in Primates. American Journal of Primatology. Vol. 13, 51-60.

Fleagle, J. G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.

Hershkovitz, P. 1977. Living New World Monkeys (Platyrrhini) with an Introduction to Primates, Vol 1. University of Chicago Press.

Jolly, A. 1972. The Evolution of Primate Behavior. Macmillan Publishing Co., N.Y.

Kinzey, W.G. 1997. Ateles. in New World Primates: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. ed. Warren G. Kinzey, Aldine de Gruyter, New York.

Last Updated: May 12, 2007.
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