1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mandrill

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MANDRILL (a name formed by the prefix “man” to the word “drill,” which was used in ancient literature to denote an ape, and is probably of West African origin), the common title of the most hideous and most brilliantly coloured of all the African monkeys collectively denominated baboons and constituting the genus Papio. Together with the drill (q.v.), the mandrill, Papio maimon, constitutes the subgenus Maimon, which is exclusively West African in distribution, and characterized, among other peculiarities, by the extreme shortness of the tail, and the great development of the longitudinal bony swellings, covered during life with naked skin, on the sides of the muzzle. As a whole, the mandrill is characterized by heaviness of body, stoutness and strength of limb, and exceeding shortness of tail, which is a mere stump, not 2 in. long, and usually carried erect. It is, moreover, remarkable for the prominence of its brow-ridges, beneath which the small and closely approximated eyes are deeply sunk; the immense size of the canine teeth, and more especially for the extraordinarily vivid colouring of some parts of the skin. The body generally is covered with soft hair—light olive-brown above, and silvery grey beneath—and the chin is furnished underneath with a small pointed yellow beard. The hair of the forehead and temples is directed upwards so as to meet in a point on the crown, which gives the head a triangular appearance. The ears are naked, and bluish black. The hands and feet are naked, and black. A large space around the greatly developed callosities on the buttocks, as well as the upper part of the insides of the thighs, is naked and of a crimson colour, shading off on the sides to lilac or blue, which, depending upon injection of the superficial blood-vessels, varies in intensity according to the condition of the animal—increasing under excitement, fading during sickness, and disappearing after death. It is, however, in the face that the most remarkable disposition of vivid hues occurs, more resembling those of a brilliantly coloured flower than what might be expected in a mammal. The cheek-prominences are of an intense blue, the effect of which is heightened by deeply sunk longitudinal furrows of a darker tint, while the central line and termination of the nose are bright scarlet. It is only to fully adult males that this description applies. The female is of much smaller size, and more slender; and, though the general tone of the hairy parts of the body is the same, the prominences, furrows, and colouring of the face are much less marked. The young males have black faces.

Old males are remarkable for the ferocity of their disposition, as well as for other disagreeable qualities; but when young they can easily be tamed. Like baboons, mandrills appear to be indiscriminate eaters, feeding on fruit, roots, reptiles, insects, scorpions, &c., and inhabit open rocky ground rather than forests. Not much is known of the mandrill’s habits in the wild state, nor of the exact limits of its geographical distribution; the specimens brought to Europe coming from the west coast of tropical Africa, from Guinea to the Gaboon. (See also Primates.)(W. H. F.; R. L.*)