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A Monkey That Changes Color

February 8, 2016

A Monkey That Changes Color

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Nichole Shelmidine Nichole Shelmidine

While there are so many fascinating things to know about primates, the one that always amazes me is that of neonatal coat coloration–the bright orange fur that can be observed on a silvered leaf monkey infant.

Silvered leaf monkeys (also called silvered leaf langurs) can be found in Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo. The adults are dark gray in color and may live in troops with up to 20 individuals. Group composition is generally one to two adult males with a number of females and their offspring. After an average gestation period of 195 days (or six months), females will give birth to a baby the color of a carrot. It is believed that this outrageously orange color helps to catch the attention of other females in the group and increases interest in helping the mother care for the infant (also known as allomothering).

Over the course of six months, the orange infant grows and will gradually change to the silvery color of the adults. As the orange color fades to gray, so does the interest of the females in the group. By the time the baby is completely gray in color, it has also become fairly independent.

Nikon D4


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