Weird Nature
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13 Of The Strangest-Looking Primates In Nature

Updated May 29, 2020 890 votes 158 voters 7.8k views13 items

List RulesVote up the freakiest primate.

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.

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  • Photo: Charles J Sharp / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    These endangered primates are named for their pronounced noses - one of the most distinctive in the animal kingdom. They are also known for their impressive swimming abilities, which is a rare skill for primates. Proboscis monkeys can only be found in the jungles of Borneo where they tend to stay close to water, whether it be near rivers, swamps, or mangrove forests. They spend most of their lives in the trees, rarely walking on the ground for fear of jaguars and other predators. Unfortunately, the elimination of their natural habitat for human activities has nearly wiped out the rainforests that they call home, and as a result proboscis monkeys are facing extinction.

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  • Photo: Evgenia Kononova / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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