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The Emperor Tamarin (Saguinus imperator)

Emperor Tamarins are adorable monkeys with very unique facial features. Their small body and sad-looking eyes will make you want to own one as a pet, although it is probably best not to. Let's check the research on these petit primates and find out more about them!

Physical Description and Behavior

These primates are super tiny, being less than a foot in length (They are about 10 inches, not including their thin 14-16 inch-long tail). They are also fairly light, being only about 18 ounces (that is slightly more than a pound in Americanese, or more than 300 pennyweights if you're a Blighty). The hairs on their chest and belly are a mixture of white, red, and orange hairs, while the hairs on their backs are generally a dark brown.

Their most notable characteristic is their long, white, mischievous-looking mustache. There are two subspecies of the emperor tamarin: Saguinus imperator subgrisecens, and Saguinus imperator imperator. The only significant difference between the two is the fact that the former has a beard to go with its mustache.

Fun Fact: While most primates have nails on their hands, tamarins instead have claws on the end of their fingers and toes. The only exception to this is their big toe, which has a nail on it. Their thumbs are also not opposable, which is uncommon among primates.

They eat mainly plant material, such as fruits and vegetables. The consumption of plant gums and saps is also common among this species. While they do not often eat insects and frogs, they may consume them as well in lean times. It is also not uncommon for them to form mixed-species troops with Weddell's saddle-back tamarins (S. fuscicollis weddelli) in order to search for food.

Habitat and Location

These tamarins live in a small segment of the Amazon rainforest on the border of Brazil and Peru. They prefer to live in lowlands and lower altitudes, this is most likely due to the flooding creating a tropical environment in these areas year-round.

Despite their fairly small habitat and the nearby destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, the IUCN Redlist has labeled this species to be of Least Concern. Although they do admit that the population is decreasing, mainly due to habitat loss via animal agriculture and logging.

To learn a little more about the emperor tamarin, check out this video by the BBC:

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