Wondernose: What animal has scarlet and bright blue skin on its face and haunches?

by Estella See | Jun 1, 2023 | 0 comments

male mandrill with open mouth
Male mandrill. Photo © Freder/iStock.com.

This sounds like a very fantastic creature, doesn’t it, Wondernose? It is one of the most brightly colored mammals in the world. The adult male has bare patches of skin on both the face and the posterior. The bridge and the end of the nose are scarlet, while the ribbed cheeks range in color from bright blue to violet. The haunches are pink to crimson, shading to bluish at the edges. The female’s face and haunches are also bare, but they are dull in color.

Our mysterious animal lives in west-central Africa, from the Sanaga River southward to the Congo River. Its habitat includes the countries of Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and parts of the Republic of the Congo. Their homes are mainly in tropical rain forests, but they will also travel across savannas.

This unique mammal has a stout body with a stubby tail and small close-set, sunken eyes. It has long body fur, olive to brown in color. Its neck fur and small beard are yellow.

The males are twice as large as the females. They are about 3 feet (1 m) long and weigh up to 77 pounds (35 kg), while the females only average 29 pounds (13 kg). Their formidable canine teeth measure up to 2 inches (5 cm) long. The males protect the group from leopards and other threats. They sound rather fierce, don’t they, Wondernose!

Are you still clueless, Wondernose? With pig-like eyes, a beard like a goat, long teeth, and a dog-like muzzle, it sounds like a mix of several creatures. Let me tell you some more about them.

These animals are active during the day and spend most of their time on the ground, although they do feed as high as the canopy. Fruits and seeds are their favorite foods, but they also eat leaves, piths, mushrooms, and animals from insects to juvenile antelope.

Oh, a kind of monkey! Yes, Wondernose, this is the largest of the Old World monkeys. But you’re still scratching your head over its name, aren’t you? Well, its binomial name is mandrillus sphinx. That gives its name away! Yes, it is a mandrill.

mandrill scratching its head
Mandrill. Photo © Peter Zwitser/iStock.com.

Are you still wondering what creates the mandrill’s brilliant colors? The red coloration is created by blood vessels near the surface of the skin, while the blue is a form of structural coloration caused by parallel arrangements of collagen fibers. The bright colors contrast with the green foliage of their habitat, helping them to stand out to other individuals. Melanin causes the more subdued coloring of female faces.

Mandrills live up to forty years in captivity, but only twelve to fourteen in the wild.

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