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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/32

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The American monkeys, on the other hand, with the exception of the marmosets, have four additional grinding-teeth (one in each jaw on either side), and none of them have callosities or cheek-pouches. They never have prominent snouts like the baboons; their nostrils are placed wide apart and open sideways on the face; the tail, though sometimes short, is never quite absent; and the thumb bends the same way as the fingers, is generally very short and weak, and is often quite wanting. We thus see that these American monkeys differ in a great number of characters from those of the Eastern hemisphere; and they have this further peculiarity, that many of them have prehensile or grasping tails, which are never found in the monkeys of any other country. This curious organ serves the purpose of a fifth hand. It has so much muscular power that the animal can hang by it easily with the tip curled round a branch, while it can also be used to pick up small objects with almost as much ease and exactness as an elephant's trunk. In those species which have it most perfectly formed it is very long and powerful, and the end has the underside covered with bare skin, exactly resembling that of the finger or palm of the hand, and apparently equally sensitive. One of the common kinds of monkeys that accompany street organ-players has a prehensile tail, but not of the most perfect kind; since in this species the tail is entirely clad with hair to the tip, and seems to be used chiefly to steady the animal when sitting on a branch by being twisted round another branch near it. The statement is often erroneously made that all American monkeys have prehensile tails; but the fact is that rather less than half the known kinds have them so, the remainder having this organ either short and bushy or long and slender, but entirely without any power of grasping. All prehensile-tailed monkeys are American, but all American monkeys are not prehensile-tailed.

By remembering these characters it is easy, with a little observation, to tell whether any strange monkey comes from America or from the Old World. If it has bare seat-pads, or if when eating it fills its mouth till its cheeks swell out like little bags, we may be sure it comes from some part of Africa or Asia; while, if it can curl up the end of its tail so as to take hold of anything, it is certainly American. As all the tailed monkeys of the Old World have seat-pads (or ischial callosities as they are called in scientific language), and as all the American monkeys have tails, but no seat-pads, this is the most constant external character by which to distinguish them; and, having done so, we can look for the other peculiarities of the American monkeys, especially the distance apart of the nostrils and their lateral position.

The whole monkey-tribe is especially tropical, only a few kinds being found in the warmer parts of the temperate zone. One inhabits the Rock of Gibraltar, and there is one very like it in Japan, and these are the two monkeys which live farthest from the equator. In the