Discover the Barbary Macaque

Today at Light Future Art, we are highlighting the Barbary macaque. You might know them by a different name, the Barbary ape, but have no doubt, these fascinating animals really are monkeys.

Barbary Macaque on Rock1. The Barbary macaque lives in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco, with a small population found in Gibraltar. This group in Gibraltar is the only wild monkey population in Europe. While the African populations are declining, the Gibraltar population is actually increasing.

2. The range of the Barbary macaque used to be much larger. Pleistocene evidence shows that they live throughout Southern Europe and in all of Northern Africa. Writing from 2,500 years ago tells of Barbary macaques in areas they no longer live in, like Tunisia.

3. Barbary macaques are omnivores. They eat a large variety of plants and insects. Nearly every part of a plant is included in their diet, even the bark of trees. They also eat snails, worms, centipedes, and tadpoles.



Barbary Macaque and Baby4. Because the paternity of all babies is unknown, males take an equal part in raising all young.

5. Males don’t just provide the basics for the infants, either. The most successful macaques spend considerable time playing with and grooming the babies, creating a strong bond between themselves and all the babies in the troop.

6. Not only are male Barbary macaques attentive fathers, they also are less violent than other monkeys. It is possible that the presence of the infants creates a type of social buffer which makes males wish to cooperate with each other rather than fight. Most coalitions are formed between closely related males, although a history of helpfulness is also considered, as well as the other’s position in the troop hierarchy. Males will form coalitions with those superior to them in order to avoid conflict.


A Group of Barbary Macaque7. The mating behavior within a troop of Barbary macaques is entirely determined by the females. They tend to mate with most of the males in their troop and only when they wish to. While competition does occur among males, being too aggressive will make a male seem unattractive and is therefore counterproductive.

8. The Barbary macaque is the oldest macaque species. They are more closely related to the ancestor of all macaques than any other macaque.

9. Barbary macaques identify one another through their unique voices. Factors such as pitch and volume are unique to each individual and the content of the macaque’s call doesn’t need to be different than anyone else’s for a mother or friend to recognize it.

10. Barbary macaques often chatter their teeth together, which can be construed as a display of aggression. This is their way of smiling, however, and is extremely friendly. Young macaques also smile with open mouths at each other to be playful.


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