Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/196

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184
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE PYGMY MONKEY.[1]
By E. OUSTALET.

THERE was lately presented to the London Zoölogical Society, by an engineer attached to the navigation service of the Upper Amazon, a monkey, which may be regarded as one of the smallest representatives of the order Quadrumana. The animal is not so big as a squirrel, its body measuring only fifteen centimetres, with a tail of about the same length. The tribe to which it belongs, that of the Hapalians, stands at the foot of the monkey series, at the head of which are the anthropoid apes. While the latter are remarkable for a stature nearly equal to that of the human species, a robust body without caudal appendage, and a voluminous brain with numerous convolutions, the Hapalians, on the other hand, in size do not surpass some of our Rodents. The body is rather slender, but covered with a heavy coat of hair, and terminated by a long tail; the brain is almost perfectly smooth. Like the Cebians, with which they constitute the Platyrrhine family, they have neither callosities nor cheek-pouches, but they differ from the other monkeys of the New World in the claw-like nails of all the fingers except the thumbs of the posterior members, and in the teeth, which number only thirty-two, the great molars being reduced to two on each side of each jaw. To these characters correspond notable differences in the habits and modes of life. Thus certain naturalists have supposed that the Hapalians (which they designate by the not very appropriate name of Arctopitheci—"bear-monkeys") must be regarded as an independent family, of the same rank as the families of the Platyrrhines and the Catarrhines. Even though we do not adopt this opinion, we are forced to admit that the Hapalians offer certain affinities with the Rodents, if not in the skeleton and the dental formula, at least in the gait. Like our squirrels, they are essentially arboreal, and run up and down the trunks of trees with great agility, buying their claws deep into the bark. Like the squirrels, too, they are lively and alert during the day, and spend the nights concealed in holes; like them, they shelter themselves against cold by gathering around them their bushy tails; like them, finally, they are exceedingly timid and wary, fleeing at the least noise, and seeking refuge in the foliage. But here the resemblance ends: for, while the Rodents, with their strong incisors and molars, easily cut and bruise the hardest grains and fruits, the Hapalians, whose jaws are of a different conformation, live on birds'-eggs, insects, fruits, and buds. As regards intelligence, the Hapalians appear to be far inferior to other monkeys, and in them the sense of touch in particular is poorly developed, the anterior members terminating in true

  1. Translated from the French by J. Fitzgerald, A.M.