YourPosition:  Home  >  China birdwatching info

Golden Snub-nosed Monkey

Golden Snub-nosed Monkey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article containsChinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead ofChinese characters.
Golden Snub-nosed Monkey[1]
Conservation status

Endangered (IUCN 3.1)[2]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Rhinopithecus
Species: R. roxellana
Binomial name
Rhinopithecus roxellana
Milne-Edwards, 1870

The Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) is an Old World monkey in the Colobinae subfamily.[1] It is endemic to a small area in temperate, mountainous forests of central and south-western China.[3] The Chinese name is Sichuan Golden Hair Monkey (����˿��). It is also widely referred to as the Sichuan Snub-Nosed Monkey.[4][5][6] Snow occurs frequently within its range and it can withstand colder average temperatures than any other non-human primates.[7] Its diet varies markedly with the seasons, but it is primarily an herbivore with lichens being its main food source. It is diurnal and largely arboreal, spending some 97% of their time in the canopy. There are three subspecies. Population estimates range from 8,000 to 15,000 and it is threatened by habitat loss.[2]


Rhinopithecus roxellana in captivity outside of Xi'an, China

The adult and subadult Golden Snub-nosed Monkey is sexually dimorphic. Adult males (estimated at over 7 years of age) have large bodies covered with very long, goldenguard hairs on their backs and cape area. The crest is medium brown while the back,crown to nape, arms and outer thighs are deep brown.

Subadult males (estimated at 5-7 years of age) are more slender than adult males. The golden guard hairs are short and sparse, and their crests show microbanding.

Adult females (estimated at over 5 years of age) are about half the size of adult males. The golden guard hairs are also present on the back and cape area, but they are shorter in length than in the males. The brown crest shows microbanding. Their breasts and nipples are large.

Subadult females are about two-thirds the size of adult females. The body hair is brown, gradually turning golden but without the golden guard hairs. The crest shows microbanding. The breasts and nipples are not as large as in adult females.

Juveniles (at least 1 year of age) are quite small, being less than two-thirds the size of adult females. The body hair is light brown, turning reddish gold with time. The rest of their body hair is brown. Sexual discrimination is difficult because their external genital organs are underdeveloped. Infants (age 3 months to a year) are light brownish gray or light brown, appearing white in sunlight. Their sex cannot be identified at this age. Newborn babies ( under 3 months of age) are dark to light gray. They turn light brownish grey after about 2 months. [4]

[edit]Social organization and behavior

the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey is found in groups ranging in size from 5-10 individuals to bands of about 600.[5] The social organization of this species can be quite complex. Even within a band there can be smaller groups referred to as OMU, one-male units that are each led by an adult male. The male may stay solitary, often remaining away from the rest of the group members as they rest. Adult females tend to socialize more with one another than with other males or juveniles. Group members remain close to one another, interactions between different OMUs often result in confrontations.[4]

Protecting the young is a group effort. Mothers often have helpers assisting them with the care of their young.[8] When faced with danger from a predator such as the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), the young are placed at the center of the group while the stronger adult males go to the scene of the alarm. The rest of the day, the members of the group remain closer to one another with the young protected at the center.[9]

[edit]Range and habitat

The distribution range of the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey is limited to the mountains in four provinces in China: Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi, and Hubei.[2][10]This monkey is found at elevations of 1,500-3,400 m. It lives at different elevations and increases or decreases the size of its home range with the change of seasons. The change in home range size and location is dependent upon the availability and distribution of food. The total area covered by its seasonal home ranges is surprisingly large for an arboreal species. One of the largest home ranges found covered 40 km2.[5]

The Golden Snub-nosed Monkey lives in temperate areas. It is limited to broadleaf deciduous, broadleaf deciduous-conifer mixed, or conifer forests.[5]


The Golden Snub-nosed Monkey eats (from greatest to least in amount) lichens, young leaves, fruits or seeds, buds, mature leaves, herbs, bark, andflowers. This diet varies from season to season, showing a correlation once again between food availability and home range. The amount of lichens consumed appears to decrease in the summer with the greater availability of fruit or seeds. The monkeys' preferred lichen species seem to be Connus controversa, Cerasus discadenia, Salix willichiana, and Malus halliana. Lichens are found in great profusion on dead trees.[6]


The Golden Snub-nosed Monkey is endangered due to habitat loss. For instance, lichens are the main staple of the monkey's diet and dead trees have the greatest lichen coverage. Unfortunately, dead trees are harvested, thus reducing the quality of the habitat and availability of food. The monkey is a highly selective feeder, so damage to its habitat seriously impacts the species.[5]


Females are sexually mature at about 5 years old. Males are sexually mature at about 5-7 years old.[4] Mating may occur throughout the year but peaks in the month of October. This approximates gestation at 6-7 months in length. The Golden Snub-nosed Monkey gives birth from March to June.[11]


Hubei's monkeys honored by a statue at Houzibao (the place name means, "a bunch of monkeys"). Located in Xingshan County nearShennongjia border, this is indeed part of the Hubei Golden Snub-nosed Monkey's traditional homeland

Biologists presently identify three subspecies of this monkey,[1] which can be distinguished primarily by the length of their tails, as well as by certain skeletal and dental features.[2] The dense human settlement of much of eastern Sichuan and the Han River valley of southern Shaanxi creates geographical separation between the three subspecies.

  • Moupin Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, Rhinopithecus roxellana roxellana. This subspecies is found in the mountainous areas flanking the Sichuan Basin from the west and north. According to the estimates made between 1995 and 2006, the population includes some 10,000 individuals, living mostly in Sichuan. Of them, some 6,000 lived in the Min Mountains of northern Sichuan, 3,500 in the Qionglai Mountains further west, and 500 in the Daxiangling andXiaoxiangling ranges of south-central Sichuan. Smaller groups are also found just north of Sichuan border, in the border counties of Gansu (Wen County; about 800 individuals in 8 troops) and Shaanxi (Ningqiang County, about 170-200 individuals in 1 or 2 troops).[2]
  • Qinling Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, Rhinopithecus roxellana qinlingensis. According to an estimate published in 2001, this subspecies included some 3,800-4,000 individuals (about half of them adults) in 39 in Qinling Mountains of southern Gansu.[2] The Qinling Mountains are separated from the more southern Min - Daba Mountains belt by the wide and comparatively densely populated Han River valley.[12]
  • Hubei Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, Rhinopithecus roxellana hubeiensis. Members of this subspecies reside in the Daba Mountains (in particular, their Shennongjia section) of the westernmost Hubei (Shennongjia Forest District, Fang, Xingshan and Badong counties) and the northeaster Chongqing Municipality.[2][13] Accoridng to a 1998 estimate, the population included 600-1,000 individuals in 5-6 troops.[2] In 2005, the management of the Shennongjia Nature Reserve reported that the population had grown between 1990 and 2005 from 500 to over 1200.[14]


  1. ^ a b c Groves, C. (2005). Wilson, D. E., & Reeder, D. M, eds. ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 174. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Yongcheng, L. & Richardson, M. (2008). Rhinopithecus roxellana. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 4 January 2009.
  3. ^ Guo, Songtao, Li, Baoguo, Watanabe, Kunio (October 2007). "Diet and activity budget of Rhinopithecus roxellana in the Qinling Mountains, China". Primates: Journal of Primatology, 48 (4): 268-276.
  4. ^ a b c d Zhang, Peng, Watanabe, Kunio, Li, Baoguo, Tan, Chia L (October 2006). "Social Organization of Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithcus roxellana) in the Qinling Mountains, Central China". Primates 47 (4): 374-382.
  5. ^ a b c d e Li, Baoguo, Chen, Chao, Ji, Weihong, Ren, Baoping (2000). "Seasonal Home Range Changes of the Sichuan Snub-Nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in the Qinling Muntains of China". Folia Primatologica: International Journal of Primatology 7: 375-386.
  6. ^ a b Yiming, Li (May 2005). "Seasonal variation of diet and food availability in a group of Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys in Shennongjia Nature Reserve, China". American Journal of Primatology 68 (3): 217-233.
  7. ^ Gron, K.J. (2007). "Primate Factsheets: Golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) Taxonomy, Morphology, & Ecology". Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  8. ^ Xi, Wenzhong, Li, Baoguo, Zhao, Dapeng, Ji, Weihong, Zhang, Peng (June 2008). "Benefits to Female Helpers in Wild Rhinopithecus roxellana". International Journal of Primatology 29 (3): 593-600.
  9. ^ Zhang, Shuyi, Ren, Baoping, Li, Baoguo (1999). "A Juvenile Sichuan Golden Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxelanna) Predated by a Goshawk (Accipter gentilis) in the Qinling Mountains". Folia Primatologica: International Journal of Primatology 70: 175-176.
  10. ^ IUCN Range map
  11. ^ Zhang, Shuyi, Liang, Bing, Wang, Lixin (2000). "Seasonality of Matings and Births in Captive Sichuan Golden Monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana)". American Journal of Primatology 51: 265-269.
  12. ^ E.g., ʹ���й��ͼ�� (Shiyong Zhongguo Dituji, "Practical Atlas of China"), 2008, ISBN 978-7-5031-4772-2; map of Shaanxi on pp. 162-163
  13. ^ Chongqing Municipality was separated from Sichuan Province in 1997, and included much of Sichuan's part of the Daba Mountains, and all of former Sichuan-Hubei border. Thus older sources referring to the "northeastern Sichuan", may often mean counties transferred to the new Chongqing Municipality.
  14. ^ Number of golden monkeys doubled (Xinhua,, 2005-08-08)