Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/31

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23
MONKEYS.

walk usually on all-fours; but in these the arms are so long and the legs so short that the body appears half erect when walking; and they have the habit of resting on the knuckles of the hands, not on the palms like the smaller monkeys, whose arms and legs are more nearly of an equal length, which tends still further to give them a semi-erect position. Still, they are never known to walk of their own accord on their hind-legs only, though they can do so for short distances, and the story of their using a stick and walking erect by its help in the wild state is not true. Monkeys, then, are both four-handed and four-footed beasts; they possess four hands formed very much like our hands, and capable of picking up or holding any small object in the same manner; but they are also four-footed, because they use all four limbs for the purpose of walking, running, or climbing; and, being adapted to this double purpose, the hands want the delicacy of touch and the freedom as well as the precision of movement which ours possess. Man alone is so constructed that he walks erect with perfect ease, and has his hands free for any use to which he wishes to apply them; and this is the great and essential bodily distinction between monkeys and men.

We will now give some account of the different kinds of monkeys and the countries they inhabit.

The Different Kinds of Monkeys and the Countries they inhabit.—Monkeys are usually divided into three kinds—apes, monkeys, and baboons; but these do not include the American monkeys, which are really more different from all those of the Old World than any of the latter are from each other. Naturalists, therefore, divide the whole monkey-tribe into two great families, inhabiting the Old and the New Worlds respectively; and, if we learn to remember the kind of differences by which these several groups are distinguished, we shall be able to understand something of the classification of animals, and the difference between important and unimportant characters.

Taking first the Old World groups, they may be thus defined: apes have no tails; monkeys have tails, which are usually long; while baboons have short tails, and their faces, instead of being round and with a man-like expression as in apes and monkeys, are long and more dog-like. These differences are, however, by no means constant, and it is often difficult to tell whether an animal should be classed as an ape, a monkey, or a baboon. The Gibraltar ape, for example, though it has no tail, is really a monkey, because it has callosities, or hard pads of bare skin on which it sits, and cheek-pouches in which it can stow away food; the latter character being always absent in the true apes, while both. are present in most monkeys and baboons. All these animals, however, from the largest ape to the smallest monkey, have the same number of teeth as we have, and they are arranged in a similar manner, although the tusks, or canine teeth, of the males are often large, like those of a dog.