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Any of four species (family Cebidae) of diurnal, arboreal New World monkeys found from Mexico to Brazil. Long-limbed and somewhat potbellied, they are 14–26 in. (35–66 cm) long and have thumbless hands and a heavily furred, prehensile 24–36-in. (60–92-cm) tail. The coat is gray, reddish, brown, or black. They swing through branches, using their tails and hands, or leap or drop spread-eagled from tree to tree. They eat fruit, nuts, flowers, and buds. They are used in laboratory studies of malaria, to which they are susceptible. Though sometimes kept as pets, adults are likely to throw tantrums and may be dangerous.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on spider monkey, visit Britannica.com.