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capuchin (kăpˈyo͞ochĭn), name for New World monkeys of the genus Cebus, widely distributed in tropical forests of Central and South America. Medium-sized monkeys, they have a body length of 14 to 24 in. (36–61 cm), with a tail up to 20 in. (50 cm) long, and weigh 2 to 4 lb (0.9–1.8 kg). The coat is black or brown, with lighter markings on the chest in some species. The flattened face is naked and pink. Members of some species have manes resembling the cowls of capuchin monks. The tail is partially prehensile, that is, it can be used for grasping but not with the dexterity displayed by most New World monkeys. It is usually carried with the end curled in a spiral, hence the alternate name, ringtail monkey. Capuchins travel in groups through the trees, making loud sounds, and rarely descend to the ground. They feed on leaves, fruit, insects, small animals, and bird eggs. They are easily trained and are well known from circuses and as the classic organ-grinder's monkey. In the wild they use simple tools, such as rocks, for such tasks as cracking the hard shells of fruits. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Cebidae.


Capuchins (kăpˈyo͞ochĭnz) [Ital.,=hooded ones], Roman Catholic religious order of friars, one of the independent orders of Franciscans, officially the Friars Minor Capuchin [Lat. abbr., O.M.Cap.]. The order was founded (1525–28) in central Italy as a reform within the Observants, led by Matteo di Bascio. It is one of the largest orders. Born, like the Jesuits, at the beginning of the Counter Reformation, the Capuchins became a major force in church activity, especially in preaching and in missions. With the Jesuits they did much to revive Catholicism in the parts of Europe where Protestantism had prevailed. The Capuchins have been very important in foreign missions; they were early arrivals in French Canada.


See study by Father Cuthbert (1928, repr. 1971).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Cebus), a genus of American prehensile-tailed monkey of the Cebidae family.

Capuchins have relatively large, round skulls, with a shortened facial section, moderately long limbs, and a well-developed thumb. The tail is long and covered with hair, and the final third is prehensile. Capuchins inhabit the lush tropical forests of Central and South America, living in trees, chiefly in groups of eight to 30 individuals. They feed on leaves, fruits, nuts, insects, bird eggs, and fledglings. There are several species. The white-throated capuchin (C. capucinus) has black fur on most of its body but yellowish-white fur on the forehead or throat and chest and shoulders, a body length of about 45 cm, and a tail of 40–50 cm. The brown capuchin (C. apella) has a black crest, a body length of 35–45 cm, and a tail of 38–48 cm. Capuchins are often kept in zoos, where they usually reproduce successfully.


Weber, M. Primaty. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936. (Translated from German.)
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6:Mlekopitaiushchie. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. any agile intelligent New World monkey of the genus Cebus, inhabiting forests in South America, typically having a cowl of thick hair on the top of the head
2. a rare variety of domestic fancy pigeon


a. a friar belonging to a strict and autonomous branch of the Franciscan order founded in 1525
b. (as modifier): a Capuchin friar
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
White-faced capuchins, or Cebus capucinus, are found all over the rain forests of Central America.
After reflecting before a statue of Mary, he felt the urging to "go to Detroit" and heeded this advice, joining the Capuchin order in 1897.
Caption: A capuchin monkey in Brazil uses a stone to hammer an embedded rock.
The researchers think that differences in the response of humans and capuchins could stem from the different experiences that monkeys and people have with markets and how they behave.
The 12-week-old |baby capuchin monkey at Chester Zoo with its 15-year-old mum
Rachel Hevesi, from wildlife charity Wild Futures says, 'The capuchin's human-like characteristics make us believe we can identify with them.
Jordan Jesse Rojas, 41, of Austin, Texas made his profession of temporary vows as a Capuchin Franciscan brother at St.
Meanwhile, medical experts also confirmed that she had suffered malnutrition in her youth, which as per the Capuchin monkeys expert was due to living off a diet of just fruit and nuts.
Seeing her delight at being reunited with capuchin monkeys in the wild, you'll wonder why you ever doubted her.
Marina Chapman displaying the skills she claims to have learned from capuchin monkeys
The Capuchin Friars Minor is a religious order that broke away from the Franciscans in 1520.