Fun Old World Monkeys Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Apr 27, 2023 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi
Fun Old World Monkeys Facts For Kids.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.1 Min

Let's talk about an ancient species of animal called the Old World monkey. They are believed to be the ancestors of the New World monkeys.

This particular species of monkeys are also sometimes called the African monkeys as they are typically found on the African continent. These monkeys also belong to the Asian subcontinent. This species of monkeys is an inspiring example of Mammalian evolution as they are found in many habitats, from snowy mountains to vast plains; they inhabit them all!

These monkeys are called Old World monkeys as they belong to the family of Cercopithecidae, which has over 132 species of monkeys. They also have two subfamilies. The existence of this species of monkey rolls back almost 40 million years. They are closely related to the apes; however, the only difference between the two is their teeth. While Old World monkeys have a bilophodont pattern of teeth, apes are blessed with a Y5 pattern. Continue reading further for more such interesting Old World monkeys facts about macaques, baboons, and more.

If you liked reading this, then check out baboon facts and mountain gorilla facts.

Old World Monkey Interesting Facts

What type of animal are Old World Monkeys?

These Old World monkeys (also called the African monkeys), as the name itself suggests, are species of monkeys currently inhabiting the continents of Africa and Asia. Due to their past relations with the African subcontinent, they are also called African monkeys.

Old World monkeys have a total of 132 species in their family.

What class of animals do Old World Monkeys belong to?

Old World monkeys belong to the class of mammals or Mammalia, that is, they give birth to their young ones. The average litter size is known to be one infant at one time. Old World monkeys consist of two subfamilies, namely the Colobines and Cercopithecines.

How many Old World Monkeys are there in the world?

The Old World Monkeys are known to be the largest primate family in the world; they have around 132 species divided into eight genera. Their Conservation status is marked as of Least Concern by the IUCN (International Union For The Conservation of Nature). However, based on a few recent reports, the population of quite a few species of these monkeys is declining, some of which include the moor macaques, toque macaques, drill, west African red colobus, and many others. On the contrary, due to their migrating nature and a wider range of habitats, the exact number of the old world monkey is not quite certain yet.

Where do Old World monkeys live?

Old World monkeys are widely distributed around the world, with their range spreading across South America, Africa, and Asia. Various species of Old World monkeys are found in Japan, India, and South Africa.

What is an Old World monkey's habitat?

As the old world monkeys are spread across the world so widely, it is safe to say that their preference for habitats is highly variable as they tend to inhabit a wide range of environmental conditions. From the tropical forests to the arid grasslands, from the snowy mountains to the low plains, these African monkeys inhabit them all. While the Old World monkeys can survive both the plains as well as the forests, the New World monkeys usually prefer inhabiting the forests only. Both of these species (when in forests) prefer staying around long trees with twigs and branches hanging all around to allow smooth movement; food availability remains the priority, though.

Who do Old World monkeys live with?

Old World monkeys are social and hence prefer living in their groups. Their groups are called troops. One single troop can comprise hundreds to thousands of such monkeys, inclusive of males, females, and infants.

How long do Old World monkeys live?

Their lifespan ranges from 20 to 45 years (varies from species to species).

How do they reproduce?

The males and the females perform intercourse; however, Old World monkey males are polygynous, which means they tend to mate with various females, highlighting the fact that they do not follow monogamy, like the New World monkeys. After their sexual interaction, the gestation period for the females lasts about seven to eight months. The average litter size for these mammals is known to be one (two in the case of twins). The mother is responsible for taking care of the newborn; males rarely contribute. Approximately after a period of almost five to six years, the newborn attains its sexual maturity and is fit to repeat the whole cycle all over again.

What is their conservation status?

The African monkey's primate family consists of 132 various species. Their status is marked as of Least Concern by the IUCN (International Union For The Conservation Of Nature).

Old World Monkey Fun Facts

What do Old World Monkeys look like?

Close-up of an Old World Monkey.

There are many species within the family of the Old World monkey. To keep them distinguished from the New World monkeys, we can keep in mind certain key differences between the two. These monkeys have a dusky brown coat of fur all over their body. They have beautiful black eyes, with their nostrils facing downwards, meaning they are snub-nosed. They are known to have a bilophodont pattern of teeth. Their tails are used as sitting pads. The size of their body varies from species to species.

How cute are they?

We, tend to find the monkeys to be very cute because they are so close in appearance to humans. Their beautiful small eyes and soft fur make them look quite adorable, especially when they are babies.

How do they communicate?

Despite being the primates to the new world monkey, old world monkeys have evolved to perform some interesting communications on their own. These apes use various calls like bellowing. They even howl to attract females or simply use whistles when interacting with each other. They also respond to visual and audio, as they can also interpret body language to a certain extent. When they are threatened by any sort of intrusion from their predators, they have specific calls to warn their troops.

How big are Old World monkeys?

Old World monkeys, concerning their sizes, vary from species to species, but they range between 17-47 in (45-120 cm). They are about three times smaller than an average human.

How fast can Old World monkeys run?

The running speed differs between each species, but the Patas monkey, from the Old World monkey family, is the fastest primate, with a high speed of about 33 mph (53 kph).

How much do Old World monkeys weigh?

The weight of each monkey varies based on their general diet and the species that they belong to, but they range between 0.66-81.5 lb (0.3-37 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The adult male and female monkeys do not have separate names.

What would you call a baby Old World monkey?

There is no specified name for a baby New World monkey.

What do they eat?

The diet of different species of monkeys varies based on their habitat and surroundings. However, a common diet for all the New World monkeys and the African monkeys consists of insects, snails, leaves, and flowers.

Are they aggressive?

The males resort to aggressive behavior when they are threatened. They are also territorial.

Would they make a good pet?

These primates will not make good pets as they belong in the wild, and they flourish better living in their troops.

Did you know...

The teeth of these monkeys (both Old World as well as New World monkeys) are known to form fossils as a three million years old fossil was recently discovered by researchers.

Old World monkeys are also called 'African monkeys' since they are native to Africa and Asia.

Old World monkeys are closely related to apes. Apes are considered to be a sister group of the Old World monkeys.

Different Types Of Old World Monkeys

Old World monkeys separated themselves from New World monkeys more than 55 million years ago.

Old World monkeys include the Proboscis monkey, howler monkeys, Colobus, Patas, Surlil, Japanese macaques, crab-eating macaques, olive baboons, mandrill, langur, gelada, and the snub-nosed monkey.

Although they are from the same family, these monkey species differ in their size and weight.

The smallest of the Old World monkeys is the talapoin with a length of up to 13-14 in (34-37 cm) and weighing up to 1.7-2.8 lb (0.7-1.3 kg), and the largest one is the mandrill with a length of up to 29-37 in (75-95 cm) weighing up to 41-81 lb (19-37 kg).

New World Monkeys vs. Old World Monkeys

The major difference lies in their physical appearances along with their origin.

Talking about the origin first, the Old World monkeys are natives of Asia and Africa, while the New World monkeys have their roots in the Americas (South America primarily). Moving forward with the physical appearances, the Old World monkeys tend to have nostrils facing down, while the New World monkeys have sideways-facing nostrils hence making their nose flat (also called the flat-nosed monkeys). New World monkeys have prehensile tails; these prehensile tails help them hold objects, while the tails of the Old World monkeys are used as sitting pads only. Old World monkeys have eight premolars, while the latter has 12 of them. The color of their fur varies from species to species, and so does the formation of their hands. The difference in the preferred type of habitat creates a difference in their preferred diet too. For instance, the Old World monkeys prefer living in a wide range of habitats along with interacting with the female social groups and hence are omnivores in nature (small animals and plants). On the other hand, the New World monkeys prefer living in the forests, interacting with only one female but multi-male social group; they feed on nuts, berries, and tiny insects only.

Another interesting fact about the naming of these two species of monkeys is the story behind it. A few tales say that the New World monkeys were the first ones to start the process of migrating to South America. Hence, the species of monkeys present in America were named the New World monkeys while the ones who remained back in Asia and Africa were called the Old World monkeys.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our Lowchen Facts and American Marten Facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable old-world monkey coloring pages.

Old World monkeys Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Insects, Snails, Flowers, Leaves

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

0.66-81.5 lb (0.3-37 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical rain forests, savannas, shrublands, mountainous terrain

Where Do They Live?

europe, africa, asia

How Long Were They?


How Tall Were They?

21.6-27.5 in (55-70 cm)




Proboscis monkeys' genus - Nasalis Colobus monkeys' genus - Mantled guereza Howler monkeys' genus - Alouatta



Scientific Name

Depends on species

What Do They Look Like?

Dusky Brown

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

humans, habitat destruction

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

Read full bio >
Read the DisclaimerFact Correction