Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet" and "Endangered Edens."

Just like Spider-Man

1-spider-monkey

Marty’s photo of the day #2028: This spider monkey photo is from my travels for my book Endangered Edens: Exploring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, the Everglades, and Puerto Rico. This photo didn’t make my book (others from the same shoot did), as the light wasn’t quite right. Here’s a brief except from Endangered Edens about these monkeys:

Every animal encounter has the potential to become a learning experience. And with monkeys, the odds of learning something are especially high. In this instance, I learned that monkeys do indeed fall. When one attempted a long jump to another tree, his landing branch broke, and he plummeted toward the rainforest floor with a terrified scream. Fortunately, just like Spider-Man, he reached out and grabbed something—at the last possible moment—to break his fall and live another day.

There are seven recognized species of spider monkey and numerous subspecies. All are threatened due to habitat loss and hunting. Yes, people in some countries still eat them. The species here were Central American spider monkeys (also called Geoffrey’s spider monkeys), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as “endangered.” Two unusual physical characteristics of spider monkeys are that they have four long fingers and only a vestigial thumb (a full-sized thumb could interfere with swinging from branch to branch), and the females have a large pendulous clitoris that is more visible than the males’ penis, making sexual identification confusing—at least for humans. Over all, spider monkeys are large—roughly the same size as howler monkeys.

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