Pinche Tamarin (Saguinus Oedipus)

April 18, 2012 by staff 

Pinche Tamarin (Saguinus Oedipus), In German-speaking areas, the cottontop tamarin is commonly known as “Lisztaffe” (literally “Liszt monkey”) most likely due to the resemblance of its hairstyle with that of Hungarian composer and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt. This tamarin species has a long sagittal crest, white hairs from forehead to nape flowing over the shoulders (“Cottontop”). The back is brown, and the underparts, arms and legs are whitish-yellow. The rump and inner thighs are reddish-orange.

It is considered one of the bare-faced tamarins because of the lack of facial hair. Its lower canine teeth are longer than its incisors, so it seems as if it has small tusks. It is about the size of a squirrel and weighs 10-18 ounces. The males are only slightly larger than females. A medium cottontop tamarin weighs 432 g. Tamarins are among the smallest of the primates. Head body length of this species is 17 cm and tail length is 25 cm. Forelimbs are shorter than the hind limbs. The thumb is not opposable and the tail is not prehensile. All the finger and toe nails are like claws except for the big toe which has a flat nail.

The cottontop tamarin vocalizes with birdlike whistles, soft chirping sounds, high-pitched trilling, and staccato calls. Researchers say its repertoire of 38 distinct sounds is unusually sophisticated, conforming to grammatical rules and able to express curiosity, fear, dismay, playfulness, warnings, joy, and calls to young. It has loud territorial songs as well as songs when it is excited. It moves its tongue across the lips. This may be a recognition signal, or could be used to communicate anger or curiosity. A “threat face” consists of lowering the forehead until it forms a bulge which almost covers the eyes; the lips are pushed forward and the head and neck crests are erected. This apparently is sufficient since no other body language is used.

Life span in captivity has been as high as 25 years whereas life span in the wild is about 13-16 years. The wild population is estimated at about 6000, with 2000 adults. This species is critically endangered, having lost more than three-quarters of its original habitat to deforestation. Clearing of forest habitat by humans is the main problem and populations have also been depleted by the pet trade and scientific research. They are now protected by international law; although they are numerous in captivity, they are still critically endangered in the wild. The species is considered to be one of “The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates.”

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