Primate family tree

The primates are in some ways one of the most successful families. It is true that many are now endangered, however, unfortunately, that is as a result of the run-away success of the most successful member of the primate family us! Having left the rainforests behind, we have been reducing their coverage dramatically over the last few centuries. 

The sad thing, is that while we have pushed many of our closest cousins towards extinction, the loss of forests may well cost us dearly in the future as well. As a species, we need to pull together to meet this challenge. 

These are the so called great apes – a family which includes ourselves. The rest of the primates will lie below.

Great Apes

So 17 million years ago, the great apes split off from the lesser apes – the gibbons. These are more wide varied, consisting of 4 genus with living members (I will not worry about the extinct genus.

This is the one remaining member of the Genus Symphalangus, as well as the 3 members of the Genus Hoolock. Some publications suggest that the Eastern and Western Hoolock are only subspecies, not different enough to be separate species.

Great ape Family split is thought to have split from its nearest relative – the gibbon family, around 17 million years ago.

4 million years later the Orangutan family split from the gorilla line and the human/chimp line.

3 million years after this (so around 10 million years ago) the gorilla family split from the Homo (humans) and Pan

Finally the human line (homo) split from the Pan line 5-6 million years ago.

It should be noted, that chimpanzees and Bonobos split from a common ancestor just 1.8 million years ago. This occurred as the two populations ceased to be able to have contact with each other – the Congo rive formed between 1.5 and 2 million years ago.

For more information on each species, click on their photo and this will take you to their page


This family is the Genus: Nomascus or crested gibbon

The last Genus of gibbons is Hylobates: dwarf gibbons.

The next family of monkeys is large, and is called the Cercopithecoidea, or old world monkeys – those found in Africa and Asia.

They are, in turn, split into two families, the Cercopithecinae, and the Colobinae.

The Cercopithercinae are split into 2 tribes Cercopithecini with 6 genus, and Papionini with 7 genus

Taking the tribe Cercopithecini first,.  The monkeys are then genus here are Allenpithecus, Miopithecus and Allochrocebus (they are written with the name on the photo – hover your mouse over them for the name to appear.


Next, I will include 2 genus – Chlorocebus – the vervet monkey species (7 species) and Erythrocebus – the patas monkeys (3 species).

Here I will include the last genus which is the Cercopithecini (guenons), though this has many species, which are subdivided into 6 groups.

                                Diana group                                                                        Hamlyni                                                                                        Mitis group

The next group of Guenons is


The last two groups are Neglectus which only has one member (and is the first in the grid below, and the 5 in the Mona group                                                                    

Having finally finished that tribe, we move on to the Papionini which is the second tribe in this subfamily of the primate family. This Tribe has 7 genus. The first 4 genus, Lophocebus (crested Mangabeys), Mandrillus (Mandrills), Rungwecbus (Kipunji) and Theropithecus (Gedalda)

Next genus is Papio, which is the worlds baboons

The Next genus is Cerocobus, which is the group of white eyelid mangabay

The last family to deal with is the Macaques, which is quite a large family

The first group is the Barbary group.

Next we will cover two groups: crab eating macaques and Rhesus 

The next group is the Southern pig-tailed group

The last group of Macaques is called the Toque group

Next we have the new world monkeys, these are the monkeys of the Americas. While there are no monkeys further north of Mexico, but in Southern America  hosts one of the worlds largest rainforests in southern America and this has many primate species. These primates are considered in a separate super-family called Ceboidea

So the new world monkeys are made up of 5 families 

These are 

We will deal with each family, one at a time so first
Callitrichidae, and the first genus is Sanguinus, and the first subgenus is also called Sanguinus

The second subgroup of this Genus (Sanguinus) is Tanarinus

The next genus is Mico

The next Genus is Leontocebus

The next Genus is Callithrix

Finally, the last 3 genus in one. Genus  Callitrichidae in the first 2 columns, genus Cebuella in the third column and Genus Callimico in the fourth column


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