Throwback Thursday: Jujuná

d1scans011 smLiving in Panama was sometimes like living in a never-ending episode of David Attenborough’s Life on Earth.

The invertebrates alone were enough there to keep me intrigued for a lifetime—tarantulas, whip scorpions, solifugids, scorpions, grasshoppers, mantids, butterflies, bioluminescent click beetles…every day was an entomological adventure.

And the snakes! Coral snakes, fer-de-lances, palm vipers, vine snakes, boa constrictors…never a dull moment.

And don’t even get me going on the frogs, birds, and lizards—I could spend a week waxing lyrical about the hummingbirds alone.

In the rainforest, we could see howler monkeys, spider monkeys, cotton-top tamarins, agouti, and jaguarundi, among other mammals. And even in our far-from-pristine village, where all the forested land was managed by the local farmers, we had mammals—sloths, squirrels, rats the size of small dogs, and one of my favourites—the jujuná or night monkey. We didn’t see them often. As their name implies, they’re nocturnal. The only nocturnal monkey, as it turns out. Its secretive habits are probably why it manages to live where other monkeys don’t.

Night monkeys are interesting, not just because of their unusual nighttime habits, but also because they are one of the few primates other than humans who contract malaria, making them important in medical research on the disease.

Night monkeys live in small family groups. The individuals in this photo are probably a mated pair and their young (the little one is on the left—you can just see its back). Though we seldom saw them, it was fun to know they were there.

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