Monday, November 12, 2007


I have mentioned ‘brushing’ several times recently. There is no doubt that all our monkeys love it. They regard this as grooming. It is an important event for them and is much a communication among them as speech is to humans. Monkeys also express affection and make peace with others by grooming each other. Although grooming helps monkeys keep their fur clean of dirt, dead skin, and parasites, it also helps them to build and maintain good social relationships. Grooming seems to be a way to make up after fighting, or to make friends with other troop members. The howler monkey’s fur is more complex that you might think at first sight. The Apple like head is parted in two directions. The forehead hair is parted backwards towards the body, whereas the hair at the rear of the skull goes forward. This leaves a line of demarcation somewhere in the center of the head from ear to ear.
The direction of the hair on the howlers back goes from head to tail. The direction of the hair on the arms changes at the elbow. The forearm hair goes downwards towards the hands but the hair from the wrist to the elbow going upwards.
The hair on the legs, both above and below the knee goes downward towards the feet.
I have thought about the purpose of these changes in direction. One possibility is, to allow the excess juice from fruit to flow away down the arm rather than be impeded by hair. This picture of Totto shows very clearly the parting of hair on the scalp and the change in direction of hair on the upper and lower arm.

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