The Yellow Baboon (Papio cynocephalus) is a baboon from the Old World monkey family.
It has a slim body with long arms and legs and a yellowish-brown hair. It resembles the chacma baboon but is smaller and its muzzle is not as elongated. The hairless face is black, framed with white sideburns. Males can grow to about 84 cm, females to about 60 cm. It has a long tail which grows to be nearly as long as the body.
The Yellow Baboon inhabits savannas and light forests in the eastern Africa, from Kenya and Tanzania to Zimbabwe and Botswana. It is diurnal, terrestrial, and lives in complex mixed gender social groups. It is omnivorous with a preference for fruits, but it also eats other plant parts as well as insects and small vertebrate animals.
The word “baboon” comes from “babouin”, the name given to them by the French naturalist Buffon. The baboon held several positions in Egyptian mythology. The baboon god Baba, was worshipped in Pre-Dynastic times; alternatively, this may be the origin of the animal’s name. Papio belongs to family Cercopithecidae, in subfamily Cercopithecinae.
All baboons have long dog-like muzzles (cynocephalus, “dog-head”), close-set eyes, heavy powerful jaws, thick fur except on their muzzle, a short tail and rough spots on their protruding hindquarters, called ischial callosities. These callouses are nerveless, hairless pads of skin which are present to provide for the sitting comfort of the baboon (and other Old World monkeys). Males of the Hamadryas Baboon species also have a large white mane.
There is considerable variation in size and weight depending on species, the Guinea Baboon is 50 cm (20 inches) and weighs only 14 kg (30 lb) while the biggest Chacma Baboon can be 120 cm (47 inches) and weigh 40 kg (90 lb).
In all baboon species there is pronounced sexual dimorphism, usually in size but also sometimes in colour or canine development.
Baboons are terrestrial (ground dwelling) and are found in open savannah, open woodland and hills across Africa. Their diet is omnivorous, but is usually vegetarian. They are foragers and are active at irregular times throughout the day and night. They can raid human dwellings and in South Africa they have been known to prey on sheep and goats.
Their principal predators are man and the leopard, although they are tough prey for a leopard and large males will often confront them by flashing their eyelids, showing their teeth by yawning, making gestures, and chasing after the intruder/predator.
Baboons in captivity have been known to live up to 45 years, while in the wild their life expectancy is about 30 years.
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