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Baboon

Baboon, the popular name for any monkey of the Old World genus Cynocephalus, of the sub-family Cynopithecinae, the species of which are mostly African, though some range into Arabia, and one ( C. niger) as far eastward as Celebes. The muzzle is very long, and swollen by an enlargement of the maxillary bone; the last lower molar has five tubercles, and the nostrils are always at the extremity of the snout (except in C. gelada and C. obsenrus, which are on that account sometimes made a separate genus, Theropithecus). Baboons have large cheek-pouches, and callosities, sometimes vividly coloured, on their haunches, and may be readily distinguished by their stout build, dog-like head, large canine teeth, the curious fulness on each side of the long nose, and their habit of squatting on their hind-quarters like a dog. The tail curves upward from the root and then droops, but when the animal is excited it sticks out and is flourished furiously. When young they make amusing pets, for then they are full of vivacity and fun, but as they grow older they become irritable and fierce, and many keepers in menageries and zoological gardens can testify from painful experience how savagely these animals can bite. Although the baboons approach man more closely than do the anthropoid apes (q.v.) in the double curvature of the spinal column, in other particulars they exhibit greater affinities with the Carnivora, as in their mode of progression, which is essentially quadrupedal, and in the arrangement of bones and muscles necessary to this end. Their food is chiefly fruit, seeds, and young shoots, varied with insects, worms, and, in the case of at least one species, scorpions. Some forms are known to be polygamous, and several males, with their females, live in a kind of social fashion; and nearly all form large troops or bands for foraging or defence. The number of species is probably twelve, nine or ten of which are well-marked. The Common Baboon (C.papio), ranging widely over Africa, is a large animal of yellowish-brown colour, slightly shaded with sandy or light-red. It is often seen in menageries, and is the constant companion of Egyptian jugglers, by whom it is taught many amusing tricks. C. hamadryas is the Sacred Baboon, formerly worshipped in Egypt as the type of the god of letters, and frequently occurring in their sacred and sepulchral sculptures. It is about four feet high when erect, the face dirty flesh-colour, the rest of the body dusky brown. In the males there is a long shaggy mane, reaching back as far as the loins, which gives these animals the appearance of exaggerated French poodles. The Sphinx, or Guinea Baboon (C sphinx), from Senegal, is covered with long shaggy hair of a deep russet-brown, each hair being marked with rusty-brown and black rings. The slender tapering face, ears, hands and feet, and callosities are black. The Anubis Baboon (C annbis) is a native of the west coast of Africa. The most noticeable points are the very elongated black face and the uniform dark olive-green fur, traversed below the surface with rings of yellow and black. One was purchased for the Zoological Society of London in 1860, and the owner, who had brought it from Lagos, told the secretary that "it is very seldom that these animals can be obtained, the natives having a fearful horror of their strength and ferocity when attacked." Other species are the Black Baboon, Chacma, Drill, Gelada, and Mandrill (q.v.).

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