Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Colobus Illiger, 1811

Catarrhine genus to which the colobus monkeys belong; four to seven species depending on authority; some workers form up to three subgenera. Occupy variable types of forest in west, central, and eastern Africa, as well as Zanzibar; with few exceptions, this is a highly arboreal group that rarely comes to the ground; diurnal; quadrupedal, also employ leaping and semibrachiation; thumb absent or reduced to small tubercle. Body mass ranges from 7 to 23 kg; sexually dimorphic in body size and canines. Dental formula: 2.1.2.3; large sacculated stomach that contains an alkaline environment adapted for folivory; generally, molar teeth have high cusps and sharp crests for shearing leafy material; some species are extreme dietary specialists, relying on only a few plant species. Social organization diverse, ranging from one-male unit to troops of 80 animals.

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