The barbary macaque

The barbary macaque (Macaca Sylvanus) is the only macaque living on the African continent . It lives in the wild in the relict forests of Morocco and Algeria. It is also present in an artificial way on Gibraltar. With man (Homo sapiens) he represents the only primate of Europe.


Other species of the genus Macaca live mainly in South and Southeast Asia, it is considered to be one of the ancestral forms of the branch of the macaques that appeared in Africa 5.5 million years ago. Nevertheless, its morphology and ecology are indicative of a real adaptation to the living conditions in the middle Atlas and therefore, although the species has always remained on its continent of origin, it differs greatly from the first macaques appeared. The pigmentation of the faces is very variable in the Barbary macaque.

The barbary macaque presents a several morphological adaptations to the cold linked to the mountain environment where it lives, tempered in summer and rigorous in winter. Such adaptations are rare among primates and testify to the great adaptability of the macaques, since we know another famous example: the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) that is able to survive in a thick snow.

The morphological adaptations of the Barbary macaque are a reduction in the length of the tail and fingers on the four limbs (which could freeze if they were longer, the tail is almost non-existent), a relative elongation of the length of the column Vertebral relatively to the limbs (which allows to keep up the body temperature thanks to a ball posture during the food research) and of course a strong thickening of the coat in the cold season. The coat is ochre-tan to almost black, depending on the season and individuals. Generally speaking the ventral side is much clearer than the dorsal side and the extremities of the darker limbs. The face is glabrous and can present a variety of stains and pigmentation depending on the individual.





As with all macaques, males are heavier and stronger than females.

They present a sexual dimorphism as to the length of the canine and do not stay all their life in the social group where they were born.

Conversely, females remain in their birth group for the rest of their lives, except in the case of group fission in several subgroups.

Barbary macaque live in groups of roughly as many males as females.

Each group occupies a vital space where it finds food, water and trees where he spends the night safe from predators.

Unlike most primates, Barbary macaque males have frequent and intense contact with very young macaques: they hold them, look after them and protect them since they are born.

In addition, the baby serves as a social intermediary and makes it possible to establish friendly contacts between males.

The Barbary Macaque has been classified since 2008, a species endangered by IUCN, due to the sharp decline in wild populations (more than half in 30 years!).

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