Goeldi's monkeys: A primate paradox?


  • Leila M. Porter,

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    • Leila M. Porter is a Lecturer for the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. She conducted research for her doctoral dissertation and for a post-doctoral fellowship through the Chicago Zoological Society on Goeldi's monkeys and tamarins in northwestern Bolivia. Her research has focused on the behavioral ecology, mating systems, and infant care patterns of these primates. Most recently she has surveyed this region to determine primate distribution patterns for conservation initiatives.

  • Paul A. Garber

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    • Paul A. Garber is a Full Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, has an appointment in the Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UIUC, and is an editor of the American Journal of Primatology. He has conducted research on the ecology, cognition, mating systems, and positional behavior of New World primates in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Brazil. Over the past few years Dr. Garber has conducted a series of experimental field studies on wild tamarins and capuchins examining the kinds of social and ecological information primates use in decision-making.


“A primate with the skull of a Callicebus, the mandible and feet of a marmoset and the tail and teeth of Pseudocebus [=Cebus] ….” (Riberio, 1941 as cited in Hershkovitz1 p. 866). Goeldi's monkeys are the least understood species of platyrrhine. The monkeys' small body size, black coloration, tendency to forage in the low forest understory, and cryptic nature, make them difficult to observe in the wild. Until recently, they had never been the focus of a long-term field study and as a result, little was known of the monkeys' behavior and ecology. Goeldi's monkeys comprise only one recognized species, Callimico goeldii, and have an unusual suite of anatomical and reproductive traits. These traits have created considerable confusion for taxonomists and physical anthropologists.