Monkey Mania: World's largest and most colorful monkey
Li Yunqi

"No other member in the whole class of mammals is colored in so extraordinary a manner as the adult male mandrill's," Charles Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man.

This unusual monkey that surprised Darwin was most popularly known as the character Rafiki, the chief adviser of the lion king Mufasa in the movie The Lion King.


It is hard to relate the animal with the word "cute" because despite their being exceptionally colorful, the mandrills are also the largest monkey in the world. The males are usually around 35 kilograms with some exceptions of around 50 kilograms. 

Although it is usually only about one meter tall, with its muscular limbs, it can easily tear an adult man apart. 

Adult mandrills are the fierce primate on the vast grassland of West Africa, its native home. They rarely have competitive predators, and can easily scare off a leopard.

Despite its massive power, the mandrill is always remembered because of its vibrant coloration. Male mandrills have bright blue, red, and white parts on their faces. To match with that, they also have a very colorful bottom.

The bright colors are the key when it comes to finding a mate for the male mandrills. Females are less colorful and much smaller in size, but they are very picky when choosing a partner. The popular suitors are often more colorful and stronger ones.

The female mandrills are caring and responsible mothers. Young males would leave their family at around six years old, like in many other monkey societies.

Mandrills were once classified as part of the baboons due to their similar appearances. Now they have their own genus called Mandrillus. 

The binomial name of the mandrill is Mandrillus sphinx, referring to the mysterious Egyptian monster Sphinx. Like the monster, they eat almost everything they can find. Some wild observations found that they can even kill a small antelope and feast on it. 

(All photos from VCG.)

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