Wild Fact #933 – Everything You Want to Nose About the Proboscis Monkey

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What is the first thing that you notice from the above picture of the Proboscis Monkey?  I am going to go out on a limb and guess that you noticed the very large nose!  Am I right? Of course, “proboscis” is a fancy way of saying “large nose”.  I have said it before and I will say it again, scientists who name these animals are not very creative.

Since the nose is so obvious, I guess today’s Wild Fact will talk about it.  Anyone know why the proboscis monkey requires such a large nose? For their super monkey sense of smell you say? So they can sniff out some yummy fruit from about 20 kilometers away? Actually, believe it or not the proboscis monkey does not have a better sense of smell than other monkey’s with much smaller noses.  Crazy, eh?  So what can they be used for? Would you believe me if I told you that these noses drive the women proboscis monkey’s wild! It is true, one of the uses for such a large nose is to attract a suitable mate.  Just like the antler’s of a bull moose, the nose of a proboscis monkey displays that monkey’s status.  This monkey’s nose can get as large as 7 inches.  The males have larger noses than females and the older males have larger noses than the young males, just like moose antlers.

Not only is this nose a status symbol but it is also capable of amplifying sound.  When the monkey is threatened the blood will rush to the nose and acutally cause this already large nose to swell. This swelling allows the nose to act as a resonating chamber which will amplify this particular monkey’s warning calls.  So this large nose actually helps warn other proboscis monkey’s about impending danger and attracts female proboscis monkey’s.  Who would have thought?

Proboscis Monkey Fast Fact: The proboscis monkey is only found on the South Asian Island of Borneo.  This monkey actually loves to swim and is a very proficient swimmer.  When this monkey wades in the water it will actually do so in an upright fashion.  From time to time the proboscis monkey will continue to walk upright when it leaves the water.  Other than gibbons and giant pangolins this is the only other non-human mammal to walk upright for any amount of time.  Can you say evolution?

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