Sunday, September 03, 2017

Bears and Beyond: The Wildly Bizarre Proboscis Monkeys Of Borneo!

Orangutans steal the spotlight from other wildlife in Borneo. When people go to Borneo to “see the Orange” they are always mystified, baffled and dazzled by so many beautiful and bizarre creatures that they never knew existed.

The proboscis monkey is certainly at the top of the list. With a giant nose, pot belly, crazy voice box, and several other bizarre features, once discovered they are never forgotten.

Physical Characteristics

There are several features which makes these monkeys extraordinarily quirky.

The local Malay name for this species is Monyet Belanda, meaning “Dutch Monkey” because their huge pot bellies and big red noses reminded them of Dutch colonists in the old days.

The huge belly is actually a big fermentation vat, similar to a rumen, which is full of a soup of microbes that break down the structural cellulose in leaves and turns it into usable sugar.
This “gut flora” also helps to detoxify alkaloids (plant defense poisons) so they can survive on a very low quality diet of leaves and unripe fruits, as opposed to orangutans, gibbons and macaques, which need high quality young leaves of specific trees and fruits.

A proboscis monkey would never eat a ripe banana, if it did, it could die of bloat! 

Another unique and attention-getting characteristic of the males is a bright red penis that is always erect and sweating.

The sweat is a way for excess sodium to be released, which allows them to live in the salty, mangrove forests.