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Azaras's Capuchin - Sapajus cay
Azaras's capuchin - Sapajus cay

[Image: Sapajus_libidinosus_paraguayanus.jpg]

Scientific classification 
Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Cebidae
Genus: Sapajus 
Species: Sapajus cay

Description: Its members are small monkeys, about 45 cm long, with a prehensile tail that wind around the branches to help in the movement around the trees. They usually present tufts or crests on their heads.

Differences between subspecies:

The adults of S. c. Paraguayanus have a unique pattern of coloration on their fur: they are dorsally brown, and ventrally reddish-brown clear.

The adults of S. c. pallidus present 3 phenotypes.
  • 1. Dorsally pale brown, and ventrally light reddish-brown, similar to S. c. paraguayanus This pattern is present in both the yungas of Argentina and the yungas of central Bolivia.
  • 2. Grayish brown dorsal region, and ventrally light reddish brown, but ventral is lighter than in S. c. paraguayanus This pattern is present only in the specimens of the Argentine yungas.
  • 3. Reddish dorsal region. This pattern is present only in the examples of the yungas of central Bolivia.
[Image: Sapajus_libidinosus_paraguayanus_3.jpg]

  • Sapajus cay pallidus Gray, 1866: it is distributed by a large part of Bolivia, the center of Brazil, especially in the Pantanal, and in the jungles of mountain or yungas of the Argentine north, in the provinces of Jujuy and Salta and in the province of Tucumán .
  • Sapajus cay paraguayanus Fisher, 1829: it is the other subspecies, located to the east of the previous one, in other biomes and only joined to the first in the northern portion of the distribution, the austral populations of both being separated by 800 km. This subspecies inhabits central Brazil in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, in Bolivia in the Department of Santa Cruz, in eastern Paraguay, and small sectors of northeastern Argentina; one of them are the jungles in gallery of the Oriental or wet chaco in the Pilcomayo River National Park, in the province of Formosa. The population of Apipé Island in the extreme north of Corrientes seems to be extinct. Although it is typical of the Atlantic Forest of the interior in eastern Paraguay, it does not inhabit the same environment in its continuation in Argentina, in the missionary jungle of the province of Misiones, because the Paraná high river turns out to be an insurmountable barrier, since this genus has strong aversion to water, which zoos take advantage of to keep them captive in islands surrounded by a strip of water only a few meters wide. In that province, Argentina only inhabits an island of the Paraná River: the island Caraguatay.

[Image: Cebus_cay_distribution.png]

Predation on Small Mammals by Capuchin Monkeys, Sapajus cay

Capuchin monkeys forage opportunistically and exploit 
highly diverse feeding resources that encompass a wide variety of vegetables and animal prey, including reproductive and non-reproductive plant parts, invertebrates and small vertebrates (Terborgh, 1983; Fedigan, 1990). Vertebrate prey includes birds, eggs, lizards, frogs, young coatis, bats, rodents and even other monkeys (Izawa, 1978; Newcomer and De Farcy, 1985; Fedigan, 1990; Galetti, 1990; Rose, 1997; Ferreira et al., 2002; Resende et al., 2003; Fragaszy 
et al., 2004; Sampaio and Ferrari, 2005). The foraging patterns of capuchin monkeys involve strenuous and persistent activity, search for hidden prey, manual dexterity and an explorative approach (Fedigan, 1990; Janson and Boinski, 1992; Fragaszy et al., 2004), but little is known regarding how they find and kill their prey. Here we report the behavior of Cebus cay (Illiger, 1815) (Cebus libidinosus sensu  Groves, 2001; Rylands et al., 2005) preying upon arboreal rodents (Rhipidomys sp.2 sensu Tribe, 1996) trapped during a study on small mammal population ecology.

Results and Discussion
From the first fieldwork session in March 2006, the traps attracted the attention of capuchin monkeys, who began to follow the trapping activities almost every day. The first observation involved a capuchin running after another animal in the forest canopy on the morning of March 3rd. It was not possible to identify the chased animal, which was the 
size of an opossum (Didelphis albiventris Lund, 1840) and had a long and naked tail. The outcome of this interaction was not observed. On March 21st at around 7:00 a.m., a juvenile capuchin was found vocalizing loudly, trapped inside a trap set on the ground. Other capuchins were watching 
nearby when it was released. On April 19th a male climbing mouse, Rhipidomys sp. (weight=65 g), was captured by a capuchin just after it was released from the trap. On this occasion the group of capuchins observed the activities of the researchers from canopy branches at a distance of about 10 m. When the rodent was released a subadult capuchin quickly approached, grabbed it as it climbed a tree in the understory, and killed it using the craniocervical 
bite, a widespread killing strategy adopted by other primate genera (Steklis and King, 1978). The monkey remained in the understory for about 2 minutes, licking the blood from the neck of the prey and looking at the researchers, before moving to the canopy. It was not possible to observe 
whether it ate the prey or not. This incident took place after a 28-day interval between trapping activities, a time when the traps had remained closed.

On August 25th another male Rhipidomys sp. (weight=105 g) was captured by an adult male capuchin after the rodent was released from a trap. As in the previous case, capuchins observed the researchers from a distance, and when the 
rodent was released, one individual quickly approached. At this time, the capuchin chased the rodent on understory branches, but the Rhipidomys fell to the ground and hid inside a hole in a fallen log. The capuchin descended to the forest floor, extracted the rodent from the log and took it to a branch about 3 m above the ground (Figure 1a). The rodent didn’t attempt to escape. The monkey killed the prey with a craniocervical bite, licked its neck and face, 
ripped out a piece of flesh and ate it (Figure 1b). Then, the capuchin took it to the canopy where no further observation was possible. In both of these predation events the hunter was at a distance of at least 5 m from its group members and no interaction with the other capuchins was recorded. In addition to these events, we recorded 12 cases of attacks on the trapped rodents, with traps either on the 
forest floor or on branches in the understory. Seven attacks resulted in tail and ear mutilation, but these rodents survived. In the remaining five attacks the rodents were killed. Although it was not possible to identify the actors of these attacks, capuchin monkeys are the major suspects. It is intriguing that only rodents (total number of captures = 496) 
were attacked, although 166 captures of the small marsupial Gracilinanus agilis (Burmeister, 1854) were also made.

The differences in the activity rhythm of capuchins and Rhipidomys rodents suggest these nocturnal small mammals were opportunistically hunted by the monkeys as a side-effect of the trapping procedures. The ability to search in branch holes, though, is noteworthy and did not seem to depend on the research activity at the site. There is no food 
scarcity at the study site, owing to human provisioning, so it is unlikely that hunger stimulated the quick learning that allowed the exploitation of this “new” prey item. These observations are evidence of the curious and opportunistic nature of Sapajus cay, even though it is not known how widespread this behavior was among group members.

[Image: DyXfiIA.png]
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