A lot of people believe humans evolved from apes that belong to the taxonomic order of primates. This order also includes baboons, a species considered one of the Old World monkeys.
These creatures have existed for at least two million years and are found in different parts of Africa and Arabia.
Baboons are classified as monkeys that fall under the genus Papio. However, unlike other monkeys, several distinctive features make it possible to identify a baboon.
Generally, baboons are considered some of the world’s biggest monkeys.
One of the many ways this species differs from many other monkeys is their tails.
Although the baboon, like other Old World monkeys, lacks a prehensile tail. This means that it is not used as a hand, it is, nevertheless, capable of climbing when required.
Additionally, they have powerful, hefty jaws with pointed canine teeth and long, canine-like muzzles.
They also have thick fur, except on their muzzles, and ischial callosities on their projecting buttocks, which are nerveless, hairless skin pads that make sitting more comfortable.
Because several species have been discovered to interbreed, suggesting they may be sub-species rather than species, there is considerable controversy around the taxonomy of the various baboon species.
Regardless, find below the five recognized baboon species.
1. The Olive Baboon
Otherwise called Papio anubis or the Anubis baboon, the olive baboon is the most common baboon species that can be found in approximately 25 countries of Africa.
This baboon gets its name from the shade of its fur, which is a shade that looks like a mix of green and gray, giving it an olive-colored look.
Instead of the typical olive color, some of these baboons have brown fur. Others have multicolored coats because of hair rings that are yellow-brown and black.
Generally, male olive baboons are larger than females. The males usually reach around 28 inches in height, while the females average around 24 inches.
According to reports, the average weight for both sexes is between 22 and 82 pounds, with males weighing an average of 53 pounds and females 32 pounds. In some cases, the males can weigh up to 110 pounds.
The olive baboon is a primate with one of the most intricate social structures in the animal kingdom.
Their social unit is called a troop, consisting of males and females who live together at once.
Because members travel, forage, and protect one another from deadly predators, troops, which can include up to 150 members, are critically necessary for the baboon’s existence.
Savannah, grasslands, deserts, and rainforests are places where you can find olive baboons.
As omnivores, these creatures consume various foods, such as rodents, insects, birds, fruits, seeds, leaves, and flowers.
2. The Yellow Baboon
Yellow baboons or Papio cynocephalus are not as common as olive baboons, and this species can only be found in Eastern Africa.
The easiest way to identify this species is by their hairless faces, white sideburns, slim bodies, long limbs, and yellowish fur.
Not all members of this species have completely yellow fur; some have a mix of yellow and brown, but they all generally have a lighter underside.
Their scientific name, cynocephalus, is derived from a combination of the Greek words “kynos” (dog) and “kephalikos” (head) because of the species’ dog-like face and muzzle.
Male yellow baboons are larger than females and weigh around 55 pounds and reach lengths between 84 and 121 cm (33 and 48 inches).
On the other hand, females weigh around 24 pounds and reach lengths between 60 and 91 cm (24 and 36 inches).
Both sexes have tails that can grow as long as their bodies and an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
Like other baboon species, yellow monkeys are omnivores, but they consume more fruits.
Their diet consists primarily of fruits, flower buds, leaves, seeds, insects, rabbits, smaller monkeys, etc.
Yellow baboons are typically four-legged, ground-dwelling animals.
They are also diurnal, and like olive baboons, they enjoy spending time in groups of males and females.
These baboons climb trees to sleep at night in the center of a troop’s territory called the “sleeping grove.”
Yellow baboons like to inhabit savannas, forests, woodlands, etc.
3. The Chacma Baboon
Also known as the Cape baboon or Papio ursinus, the chacma baboon is located primarily in southern Africa.
The name “chacma” comes from the Hottentot (Khoikhoi) word for baboon (choachamma or choa kamma).
The chacma baboon has a patch of coarse hair on the nape of its neck and is typically dark brown to gray in color.
This species is also considered one of the largest extant monkeys.
Adult chacma baboons usually grow as long as 20 to 45 inches, and their tails can reach anywhere between 18 and 33 inches.
Males weigh between 46 and 99 pounds, while females around 26 to 55 pounds.
There are three subspecies of chacma baboons, and all three are different in terms of color and size, with the largest being the cape chacma baboon.
They live in a variety of habitats, including forests, savannas, and sub-deserts in southern Africa.
Diurnal, these monkeys spend most of the day on the ground. They are extremely social animals that live in troops of 20 to 80 individuals.
These monkeys are omnivores and eat a variety of plant and animal species. Their usual diet includes fruits, eggs, insects, and small vertebrates.
4. The Guinea Baboon
The Guinea baboon (Papio papio) inhabits a small portion of West Africa, ranging from Guinea to Mali.
The IUCN has designated the Guinea baboon as “near threatened” due to its limited range and habitat destruction.
The preservation of the environments in which this baboon species lives, in areas big enough to support sustainable populations, as well as the management of human encroachment, are now essential for their survival.
This baboon species is one of the smallest, with the males slightly larger than the females.
Male guinea baboons can grow as long as 20 to 33 inches, while females average between 18 and 28 inches.
The general weight of both sexes falls between 28 and 57 pounds.
Because of their reddish-colored fur, guinea baboons are sometimes known as red baboons.
Their faces are black with yellow-brown sideburns, and they have hairless hindquarters.
Males have a mane that covers their heads and shoulders.
Guinea baboons are omnivores like other baboon species and will consume any available food, although their preferred foods are fruits, roots, grass, tubers, insects, small mammals, and invertebrates.
Although they can be found in forest and savanna settings, these baboons prefer the woodland savanna.
They also reside in open environments like grasslands and jungles.
Nonetheless, they can be found near various water sources throughout the dry season.
5. The Hamadryas Baboon
Also known as Papio hamadryas, the hamadryas baboon is native to the Horn of Africa and other parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
These areas offer environments with the benefit of fewer natural predators for this species than where other baboons live.
The baboon known as the hamadryas was revered by the ancient Egyptians and had several symbolic functions in their religion, hence its other name “sacred baboon.”
Like most baboon species, the male hamadryas baboon is larger than the female.
Females are completely covered in brown fur, while males have an obvious mane and mantle that is a shade between silver and white.
Males can grow as long as 31 inches and weigh between 44 and 66 pounds, while females weigh between 22 and 33 pounds and have a body length of 16 to 18 inches.
These baboons prefer to inhabit grass meadows, sub-deserts, savannahs, etc.
The hamadryas baboons have a diurnal schedule, meaning they are awake during the day and asleep at night.
Although primarily terrestrial, they like to sleep in trees or on cliffs.
As an omnivore, the hamadryas baboon consumes fruits, acacia flowers, seeds, grass, tubers, roots, small vertebrates, insects, etc.
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