Geoffroy's Spider Monkey

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Primates Atelidae Ateles Ateles geoffroyi
Geoffroy's spider monkey
IUCN Status: Endangered
  • Common Name: Central American Spider Monkey
  • Taxonomy Classification Year: 1820
  • Monkey Size: 30 to 63 cm (12 to 25 in)
  • Skin Color(s): Black, brown, or reddish
  • Habitat: Forest, rainforest
  • Diet: Herbivorous
  • Native Countries: Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua

Central American Spider Monkey Distribution

Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey Characteristics

Geoffroy's Spider Monkey

Geoffroy’s spider monkey[1] also called the Central American spider monkey or black-handed spider monkey, is a species of spider monkey, a New World species of monkey, native to Central America, parts of Mexico, and perhaps a small part of Colombia.

  • Like other monkeys and great apes, Geoffroy’s spider monkeys have large, opposed toes on their feet that can quickly grab branches.
  • As the name suggests, these monkeys have black hands and feet. Their fur coats vary in color from tan to black or reddish brown.
  • Babies are born black, but their fur lightens in the first five months of life. After that, a small head rests on a flexible body.
  • Their expressive faces are hairless, with unpigmented skin framing the eyes and muzzle in a pale facial mask.

What Do Geoffroy’s Spider Monkeys Eat?

Ateles Geoffroyi

According to the study published[¶], the Geoffroy’s spider monkey feeds on several plant matters, including these prominent sources:

  • Breadnut (Brosimum alicastrum)
  • Strawberrytree (Muntingia calabura)
  • Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simaruba).
  • Cedro Macho (Aralia excelsa).
  • False Chiggergrape (Coccoloba venosa).
  • Icecreambean (Inga edulis)
  • Mango (Mangifera indica)
  • Jagua (Genipa americana)
  • Pachiuba (Socratea exorrhiza)
  • Requia Colorada (Trichilia cipo).
  • Panama Hat Plant (Carludovica palmata).
  • Smooth Manjack (Cordia laevigata).
  • Pumpwood (Cecropia peltata)
  • Malaysian Apple (Syzygium malaccense).
  • Guarumo (Cecropia obtusifolia)
  • Conejo (Protium tenuifolium)
  • Guabo Pachón (Inga goldmanii).
  • Star Apple (Chrysophyllum cainito).
  • Angelica Tree (Dendropanax arboreus).
  • Abas (Psidium guajava)
  • False Coffee (Faramea occidentalis).
  • Panama Tree (Sterculia apetala).
  • Guarumo Amarillo (Cecropia longipes).
  • Amate (Ficus obtusifolia)
  • Hogplum (Spondias mombin)
  • Chirimoya (Annona spraguei)
  • Puerto Rico Silver Palm (Coccothrinax barbadensis).

What Eats Geoffroy’s Spider Monkeys?

Two main predators of this Central American primate are jaguars (Panthera onca) and Cougars (Puma concolor)[§].

Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey Facts

  • The genus name Ateles means “imperfect“, a reference to the vestigial thumb of the monkey.
  • The species name geoffroyi is honored by Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, a French naturalist.
  • Primatologists believe that the enlarged clitoris of female Geoffroy’s spider monkeys helps males decide which female to approach for mating. It allows the male species to gauge a woman’s sexual receptivity.
  • Geoffroy’s spider monkeys’ modes of locomotion include walking, climbing, or crawling along delicate branches, swinging from one branch to another.
  • Often, they rub their fur with a mixture of saliva and crushed linden leaves as a natural insect repellent.
  • The Geoffroy’s spider monkey consists of five recognized subspecies residing in various parts of Central America and Mexico. These include the Hooded spider monkey (A. g. grisescens) in southern Mexico, the ornately-patterned Ornate spider monkey (A. g. ornatus) in Costa Rica and Panama, the Yucatan spider monkey (A. g. yucatanensis) in the Yucatan Peninsula, the Mexican spider monkey (A. g. vellerosus) in Veracruz, and the nominate Nicaraguan spider monkey subspecies (A. g. geoffroyi) found in Nicaragua, Honduras and northern Costa Rica.

Suggested Reading: All Monkeys

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BioExplorer.net. (2024, April 13). Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey. Bio Explorer. https://www.bioexplorer.net/animals/mammals/monkeys/geoffroys-spider-monkey/.
BioExplorer.net. "Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey" Bio Explorer, 13 April 2024, https://www.bioexplorer.net/animals/mammals/monkeys/geoffroys-spider-monkey/.
BioExplorer.net. "Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey" Bio Explorer, April 13 2024. https://www.bioexplorer.net/animals/mammals/monkeys/geoffroys-spider-monkey/.
Key References
  • [1]“Habitat Characteristics of Black-handed Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) at La Suerte Biological Field Station, Costa Rica”. Accessed August 16, 2022. Link.
  • [¶] – Fricke, E.C., Svenning, J. Accelerating homogenization of the global plant-frugivore meta-network. Nature 585, 74-78 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2640-y.
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Palm-Frugivore_Interactions_Neo-AfrotropicsZona, S. & Henderson, A. (1989) A review of animal mediated seed dispersal of palms. Selbyana, 11, 6-21. Online Update 2006 ((http://www.virtualherbarium.org/palms/psdispersal.html).
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Palm-Frugivore_Interactions_Neo-AfrotropicsWright, S. J.; Duber, H. C.. 2001. Poachers and forest fragmentation alter seed dispersal, seed survival, and seedling recruitment in the palm Attalea butyraceae, with implications for tropical tree diversity. Biotropica. 583-595
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Palm-Frugivore_Interactions_Neo-AfrotropicsGonzalez-Zamora, Arturo; Arroyo-Rodriguez, Victor; Chaves, Oscar M.; Sanchez-Lopez, Sonia; Stoner, Kathryn E.; Riba-Hernandez, Pablo. 2009. Diet of Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) in Mesoamerica: Current Knowledge and Future Directions. American Journal of Primatology. Aug-20
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Palm-Frugivore_Interactions_Neo-AfrotropicsRusso, S. E.; Campbell, C. J.; Dew, J. L.; Stevenson, P. R.; Suarez, S. A.. 2005. A multi-forest comparison of dietary preferences and seed dispersal by Ateles spp.. International Journal of Primatology. 1017-1037
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Palm-Frugivore_Interactions_Neo-AfrotropicsBeckman, Noelle G.; Muller-Landau, Helene C.. 2007. Differential effects of hunting on pre-dispersal seed predation and primary and secondary seed removal of two neotropical tree species. Biotropica. 328-339
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Palm-Frugivore_Interactions_Neo-AfrotropicsSezen, Uzay U.; Chazdon, Robin L.; Holsinger, Kent E.. 2009. Proximity is not a proxy for parentage in an animal-dispersed Neotropical canopy palm. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 2037-2044
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Palm-Frugivore_Interactions_Neo-AfrotropicsSezen, Uzay U.; Chazdon, Robin L.; Holsinger, Kent E.. 2007. Multigenerational genetic analysis of tropical secondary regeneration in a canopy palm. Ecology. 3065-3075
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Palm-Frugivore_Interactions_Neo-AfrotropicsScherbaum, Carmen; Estrada, Alejandro. 2013. Selectivity in feeding preferences and ranging patterns in spider monkeys Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis of northeastern Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. Current Zoology. 125-134
  • [¶] – fgabriel1891/Plant-Frugivore-Interactions-SouthEastAsiaFleming, T. Breitwisch, Whitesides, G. 1987. Patterns of Tropical Vertebrate Frugivore Diversity. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, Vol. 18.
  • [§] – Middleton, O.S, Svensson, H, Scharlemann, J.P.W, Faurby, S, Sandom, C.J. CarniDIET 1.0: A database of terrestrial carnivorous mammal diets. Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13296. Craig, Christie A., Eleanor I. Brassine, and Daniel M. Parker. “A record of cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) diet in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana.”�African Journal of Ecology55.4 (2017): 697-700.

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