Primates are some of the most clever and intelligent animals on earth, and they hold a special place in the hearts of millions of people worldwide. Their ranks include monkeys, apes, baboons, lemurs, and even human beings. They can be found all over the world, and many societies have worshipped them for their guile, wit, and loyalty. While many of these animals are cute and lovable, there are a whole lot of weird looking primates out there that are almost too unusual to believe.
These strange primates can be found everywhere from the natural hot springs of Japan to the deserts of Arabia to the largest rainforests on earth. Whether they have blue faces or red, huge noses or none at all, crazy-looking primates are as common in the animal kingdom as their more normal cousins. Out of the over 600 known species in the world, these are the absolute freakiest looking primates in nature.
The bright red faces of the bald uakaris are certainly odd, but they may also play an important role in the lives of these monkeys. Uakaris live deep in the Amazon rainforest, a place known for its harsh climate and variety of deadly diseases. The rich color of their faces could be a signal to other uakaris that they are healthy, as symptoms of diseases like malaria usually cause pale skin.
Uakaris live in troops of up to a hundred individuals, and spend most their time foraging for food. However, their numbers are threatened due to human activity and relatively slow reproduction rates, meaning that uakaris could easily jump up from being classified as vulnerable to being placed on the endangered species list if their numbers continue declining.
Aye-ayes are a nocturnal species endemic exclusively to the island of Madagascar. While these bizarre animals may look more like rats than monkeys, they are indeed primates who have evolved some unique features: their massive eyes are so well adapted to the dark that they can actually see color in the dead of night.
And their nightmarishly thin fingers actually act as specialized tools to help them extract insects from inside trees. There is also a native superstition that paints the aye-aye as a symbol of bad luck and Madagascar locals have been known to kill them out of fear. These killings and the rapid loss of their natural environment are responsible for the aye-ayes status on the endangered species list.
Geladas have been referenced as having bleeding hearts because of the unique, hairless patch of red skin found at the center of their chests. The toughest males are thought to have the brightest chests, which makes the marking a bit of a status symbol. Geladas are found high in the mountains of Ethiopia, living in hilly grasslands where they spend their days grazing on grass and roots. They are the only living species of primates that get almost all of their nutrition from grass, a trait that is much more common in ungulates than monkeys. Geladas travel in some of the largest groups of the primate world, with up to 1,200 individuals coming together to graze and socialize.
Tarsiers are a group of small primates who could once be found all around the world, but are now limited to the rainforests of Southeast Asia. These animals are known for their large eyes - each of which are as large as their entire brain. They have adapted to life in the trees and can bound from trunk to trunk with their impressively long and powerful legs, which, relative to their size, are the longest back legs of any mammal. Less than 10 species of tarsier exist in the wild, many of which are vulnerable to extinction. Surprisingly, domestic cats are one of the largest driving factors in tarsier population loss, as their similarity to mice makes them perfect targets for felines.