Hamadryas baboon

Papio hamadryas

SUBFAMILY

Cercopithecinae

TRIBE

Papionini

TAXONOMY

Papio hamadryas (Linnaeus, 1758), Egypt. There has been considerable discussion about the taxonomy of baboons in the genus Papio because of the existence of hybrid zones between at least some of the main populations. One approach has been to recognize five different species, one being Papio hamadryas and the others being Papio anubis, Papio cynocephalus, Papio papio, and Papio ursinus. At the other extreme, it has been suggested that it would be appropriate to recognize only the single "super-species" Papio hamadryas, as this name has priority, and to regard the five populations as subspecies. Molecular evidence indicates that Papio ursinus and Papio papio, at least, are distinct, and that Papio cynocephalus is probably distinct, whereas the separation between Papio anubis and Papio hamadryas is unclear.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Sacred baboon, mantled baboon; French: Babouin hamadryas; German: Mantelpavian; Spanish: Papion negro.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

There is marked sexual dimorphism in the pelage. In males, the fur is silvery gray dorsally, forming an extensive mane, and pale gray ventrally. Females lack a mane and the fur is olive

brown dorsally and pale gray ventrally. Males have much larger canine teeth than females. There is also pronounced sexual dimorphism in body size. For males, head and body length: 30 in (75.0 cm); tail length: 22 in (55.0 cm). Body mass: 46 lb 5 oz (21.0 kg) for males and 25 lb 2 oz (11.4 kg) for females.

DISTRIBUTION

Distributed on either side of the Red Sea, inhabiting northeastern Somalia, Ethiopia, and a small part of Sudan on the western side and Yemen and part of Saudia Arabia on the eastern side.

HABITAT

Semi-arid, sparsely wooded savanna, dry short-grass plains and alpine meadows.

BEHAVIOR

Diurnal and essentially terrestrial, sleeping on steep rock faces at night. Live in large troops in which the basic units are one-male groups (harem groups) and bachelor male groups organized first into clans and then into bands. Unusual among cheek-pouched monkeys in that males remain in their natal clans, whereas females migrate.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forage primarily on the ground for grass seed, roots, tubers, and animal prey, including arthropods (particularly termites) and small vertebrates. Also eat leaves.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Single births are typical. Females have a prominent sexual swelling, which becomes bright red, along with adjacent areas of skin, around the time of ovulation. Gestation period 187 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Near Threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Known as the sacred baboon because of its significance in Egyptian mythology. ♦

both sexes, there is a large, hourglass-shaped patch of red skin on the chest. There is also pronounced sexual dimorphism in body size. Head and body length: 28.5 in (71.5 cm) for males and 23 in (57.5 cm) for females; tail length: 19 in (48.0 cm) for males and 15 in (37.0 cm) for females. Body mass: 41 lb 14 oz (19 kg) for males and 25 1b 13 oz (11.7 kg) for females.

DISTRIBUTION

Very limited range in the northern and central highlands of Ethiopia.

HABITAT

Inhabits montane grassland interspersed with dense thickets, but lacking tall trees and characterized by a pronounced dry season.

BEHAVIOR

Diurnal and essentially terrestrial. The basic social units are one-male groups and bachelor male groups, which are organized into bands and then into herds that may contain hundreds of members.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Specialized grass-feeder, foraging by shuffling along on the is-chial callosities on the buttocks and plucking grass with the hands. Eats seeds, leaves, and bulbs, along with some animal prey.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Single births are typical. In females, which lack a sexual swelling in the perineal area, the coloration of the red chest patch changes over the ovarian cycle, reaching maximum intensity around the time of ovulation, when pale, bead-like vesicles bordering the chest patch are also most prominent. Gestation period approximately 170 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Near Threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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