Baboons are African and Arabian Old World monkeys belonging to the genus Papio, part of the subfamily Cercopithecinae. The five species are some of the largest non-hominoid members of the primate order; only the mandrill and the drill are larger.
Baboons are noisy and sociable animals. They exhibit many behavioral traits that are considered to be 'human-like'. The bond between mother and infant baboon is very special, for example, and they follow a daily routine much like our own. Baboons are highly adaptable, living in a variety of habitats throughout Central Africa.
Amazing Facts About the Baboon
- Baboons are social primates who tend to live in groups of around 50 individuals (groups can be up to 300 though!). They will be routinely seen participating in social behaviours such as grooming and food sharing.
- Baboons are primarily vegetarian however they will eat insects, and occasionally fish, birds and small mammals.
- Baboons have a range of different vocalisations for communicating with each other. Over 30 distinct vocalisations including grunts and screams are used in addition to a plethora of non-vocal gestures such as shrugging and lip smacking.
- There are five species of baboons. The two most common species, olive baboons and yellow baboons, live in East Africa.
- Baboons have loose cheeks which allow them to gather food while foraging to eat later once they return to an area of safety.
- Baboons’ daily routine is somewhat similar to our own. They tend to wake up around 7.30am. They spend some time in their group before going out to forage for food. They spend the daylight hours foraging, eating, resting and grooming, before heading back to their sleeping areas at night.
- Females tend to give birth every other year. They usually have one infant and their gestation period is 6 months.
- The bond between mother and infant baboon is very special. The mother will carry the young until he or she is able to ride on her back. They are in constant contact for the first few months, and the mother is very attentive. Only once an infant reaches around 4 months of age will they be allowed to play and interact with other young baboons.
- Baboons are very strong animals and have sharp canine teeth similar in length to lions. They will however try to avoid fighting by using intimidating vocalisations and gestures.
- The Guinea baboon is the smallest baboon species, while the Chacma baboon is the largest.
- The baboon was revered in Ancient Egyptian culture, being admired for its intelligence. The baboon was also the symbol of the god Thoth, and was sometimes depicted as a guardian of the dead in the underworld.
- Baboons have co-existed with human ancestors for many millions of years. The oldest baboon fossil is a skull found in South Africa that is thought to be two millions years old.
Clancy's comment: Wow, did you see those teeth?