Feeding ecology and diet

As a rule, cheek-pouched monkeys feed predominantly on relatively high-energy foods such as fruits, seeds, insects, and

(occasionally) other vertebrates. Although many species also eat leaves, these typically represent a minor part of the diet and relatively nutritious young leaves are generally preferred. However, the bilophodont teeth that characterize all Old World monkeys probably represents 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 folivorous at least to some extent. On the other hand, the cheek pouches that characterize all cer-copithecine monkeys probably constitute an adaptation for temporary storage of small, easily collected food items such as fruits and seeds, so their development in the common ancestor of Cercopithecinae probably presumably a shift towards increased consumption of such food items. With respect to diet, the most aberrant species among the cheek-pouched monkeys is the gelada (Theropithecus gelada), which feeds extensively on grass shoots, seeds and roots and shuffles along on its hindquarters much of the day while foraging.

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