Yellow-breasted capuchin (Cebus xanthosternos)

Also known as: buff-headed capuchin, buffy-headed capuchin, golden-bellied capuchin
Synonyms: Cebus apella
GenusCebus (1)
SizeMale head-body length: 39 – 42 cm (2)
Female head-body length: 36 – 38 cm (2)
Tail length: 38 – 49 cm (3)
Female weight: 1.4 – 3.4 kg (3)
Male weight: 1.3 – 4.8 kg (3)

The yellow-breasted capuchin is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1).

The yellow-breasted capuchin is a fairly small monkey with reddish-brown fur, except for the sharply marked yellow to golden-red chest, belly, and upper arms (2) (4). The face and temples are fawn, the fur surrounding the face is yellow, but the sideburns, cap, and the hands and feet are black (2) (3). They have prehensile tails tipped with black (3). Males are slightly larger and heavier than females (5).

Endemic to Brazil, the yellow-breasted capuchin occurs in small areas of rainforest in the east and central regions of the country (6).

Found only in Atlantic coastal rainforest (1).

The yellow-breasted capuchin is a social monkey that lives in groups, thought to be of approximately 10 to 30 individuals, usually with more males than females. Spending most of their time in the trees, they forage during the day for fruit, nuts, flowers, young shoots, eggs, young birds, insects and spiders. This monkey exhibits an advanced behaviour that it learns from others in the group – it cracks nuts open by smashing two together or by hitting them against trees. The group communicates through barks, growls, screams, chatters, trills, twitters, purrs, whistles and warbles (5).

Females are sexually mature at four years, and males at seven or eight years. Gestation lasts 180 days and females give birth to just one offspring at a time (5).

The yellow-breasted capuchin is seriously threatened with extinction and the population is still declining. Not only is the very limited range of this monkey being reduced due to deforestation, but the yellow-breasted capuchin is trapped for the pet trade and hunted for meat (6).

Some protection of this species is achieved as a result of its presence in the Una Biological Reserve, the Condurú State Park (2), and at two biological research stations. A survey of this species is being conducted, believed to be among the rarest of Neotropical primates (2), but numbers will continue to decline unless the habitat of the yellow-breasted capuchin is protected (6).

For further information on capuchins see:

Primate Info Net:

Authenticated (14/10/2005) by Matt Richardson, independent primatologist and writer.

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2009)