Feeding ecology and diet

As is indicated by their name, leaf-monkeys feed predominantly on relatively low-energy leaves and other plant parts, although many species show a preference for relatively nutritious young leaves. The bilophodont teeth that characterize all Old World monkeys probably represent an adaptation for mastication of resistant material such as leaves, so it seems likely that the common Old World ancestor of both cheek-pouched monkeys (subfamily Cercopithecinae) and leaf-monkeys (subfamily Colobinae) was at least to some extent folivorous. However, uniquely among primates, colobine monkeys also possess a complex, four-chambered stomach that permits them to digest plant cell wall material with the aid of symbiotic bacteria. Despite this fundamental adaptation for digestion of resistant plant parts, there is considerable variation in diet among colobine monkeys, and some of them have become specialized for feeding on seeds rather than leaves (e.g., Colobus satanas).

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