In the most dense areas of the Amazon rain forest a certain playful little monkey with an exceptionally long beard can often be found swinging amongst the trees with the other monkeys. It is the Emperor Tamarin (its scientific name is Saguinus imperator). The other monkeys with whom it shares space are the saddleback tamarins. All of these monkeys enjoy a rich diet of fruit, tree sap, and insects in their wet densely-wooded home. But the emperor tamarin is amongst one of the smallest. At 9 to 10 inches in height with a 15 inch long tail they are highly agile and better able to pick through foilage for insects than their larger primate relatives.
The Amazon is located mostly in northern South America encompassing the countries of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Suriname which is entirely covered by it. The Amazon Basin is the living heart of the rain forest. It is here that the highest diversity of species on Earth can be found with many still unknown. And to the southwest is the home of the diurnal emperor tamarin.
The monkey has non-opposable thumbs and is typically dominant over the saddleback tamarins. They’ve been known to kick the saddlebacks out while they go on feasting yet they often depend on them for protection just as much as the saddlebacks do in return. Living in groups of 2 to 8 with their own kind they typically breed as soon as their old enough with a gestational period of 145 days. As an adaption of their environment some female emperors are trichomats, meaning they see in three colors, allowing them to pick out ripe fruit with ease. The rest of the males and females only see in two colors so they can watch for predators and prey that may be lurking amongst the thick fauna. The monkeys are very well-suited to their environment as told by their small size and long tails which come in handy for grappling onto branches high in the canopy.
Unfortunately, as with many other species living in the Amazon rain forest these adorable little monkeys are threatened. Years of relentless deforestation for agriculture use and logging has reduced the Amazon to almost half of its original size. Francisco de Orellana along with some other first European explorers were consistently blocked by the dense jungle foliage until they found the Amazon river. Today the river spans much of southwestern South America with several smaller connecting rivers. The trees are vital to the monkey since it spends most of its life in a tree. But its not just trees that the tamarin depends on, it also needs the exotic fruits that can only be found in the Amazon.
Of course, the most remarkable feature about the tamarin monkey is its long curled beard hanging down to its shoulders on each side. And hopefully the tamarin will still be around in the future for everyone to enjoy.