Blackish Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri vanzolinii)

The blackish squirrel monkey has a short digestive tract indicative of insectivory. The cheek teeth have large cusps assists the blackish squirrel monkey in eating insects (Fleagle, 1988). Males have longer canines than the females (Fleagle, 1988). The tail of the blackish squirrel monkey is prehensile in infants but the adults lose this ability. The body has a long trunk and hindlimbs and also possesses a long tail (Fleagle, 1988).


The blackish squirrel monkey is considered both frugivorous and insectivorous, preferring berry-like fruit on terminal branches. They also forage for molluscs, and small vertebrates, such as tree frogs. They obtain a majority of water from the foods eaten, and will also obtain water from holes in trees and puddles on the ground. This species is arboreal and diurnal.

The blackish squirrel monkey travels through the forest quadrupedally on the branches and leaps when it moves in the lower stories of the forest (Fleagle, 1988). This species uses quadrupedal positions when it feeds (Fleagle, 1988).

In the blackish squirrel monkey groups females form alliances with other females, and there exists a dominance hierarchy amongst the females of the group (Kinzey, 1997). Social interactions are centered around a group of dominant females, much like some prosimian species (Fleagle, 1988). The males of this species disperse and the females are philopatric (Kinzey, 1997). The males form all male groups (Kinzey, 1997). A dominant male usually monopolizes most of the copulations during the breeding season (Kinzey, 1997). The young are cared for by other females as well as the mother, but not by any males (Fleagle, 1988).


urine-wash: This is when a blackish squirrel monkey will spread urine on the bottoms of the hands and feet. Then when the individual walks, the urine is spread upon the substrate. It is used to spread olfactory cues.

penile display: This when a male blackish squirrel monkey places his hand on the back of another male, then turns the leg and thigh out so that the male can see his erect penis. This display is used to maintain dominance. The dominant male sometimes thrusts his penis at the other male, and even will urinate on the subordinate male.


The blackish squirrel monkey gives birth to a single offspring.

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

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

Last Updated: May 11, 2007.
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