Many centuries, the topic about the ancestors was the main one for many scientists. Have you ever asked what was your first ancestor like? Then, you have hit the mark. We will discuss our first primitive friends – monkeys. So, letโ€™s find out when is National Monkey Day in 2022?

Well, it is observed annually on 14th of December. The main goal is to recall the history and commemorate these creatures for their evolution.


The first known primate-like mammal, Purgatorius, is found in the deposits of the Upper Cretaceous and Early Paleocene of the USA. It was a small animal that lived on trees and fed on insects. Purgatorius is a possible ancestor of primates, although its systematic position remains uncertain. Concurrently, there were other related groups of mammals: woolly-wingers, bats, jumpers. The morphology of all these animals is primitive. The oldest relatives of primates are Plesiadapis and Tupai.

Plesiadapiforms are known from the Paleocene and Eocene of Europe and North America, were in many respects like rodents. Dimensions were similar to a mouse or a rat. An elongated muzzle, a small simply arranged brain, eyes located on the sides of the head, short massive paws, a long tail are all common signs of small mammals. They lived on trees, caught insects and ate plants. Their morphology was primitive, but they did not have specializations that would limit their evolution.

Monkey showing its tongue

Further development of the group led to the first radiation of primates – the emergence of many new species that gave rise to different lines of primates.

So, understanding the history of the topic we get when is International Monkey Day 2022 even better.

Ancient Tupayas and Woolwingers

In particular, the genus Ignacius refers to phenacolemulins (Phenacolemurinae) on the basis of the structure of the teeth. They are a subgroup of paromodium, whose generic genus – Phenacolemur – had fingers almost indistinguishable from the fingers of the modern wool. The proportions of the limbs of Ignacius also resemble woolly wings, however, the proportions of the fingers of Ignacius are more like those of their modern relatives. Such a mosaic of signs, confusing the general picture, is typical of the oldest primates and groups close to them.

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The expansion of New World monkeys to the north was hampered by the narrowness and the periodic flooding of the Isthmus of Panama, as well as semi-deserts and steppes of Central America. Nevertheless, they managed to get to the Antilles. Rhode Xenothrix – the only representative of the subfamily Xenotrichinae family Cebidae – known from the Pleistocene of Jamaica, Cuba, until recently lived black-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps, currently inhabiting in Panama, Colombia and Ecuador), Ateles anthropomorphous and, probably, some other type. It remains a mystery, how these woody animals swam to the islands.


What does National Monkey Day mean? Yearly, thousands of people gather to visit museums dedicated to our ancestors and friends. The most famous are California Ancestor Museum and London Monkey Museum. Moreover, many festivals are organized to follow the celebration traditions and to remind the global society about this fact. So, keep in touch and join the event to find out what day World Monkey Day in 2022.

Despite the antiquity, we know many Plesiadapiforms, but whole skeletons were also found. Their main groups are spiadesapoids, dividing into plesiadapidae and Saxonellidae, carpolestoidea, including carpolestidae, microscopes, dividing into microsyopide, Palaechthonidads, and Tolyapinide (Toliapinidae). Regarding the group of micro-isopods, however, there are doubts: some experts consider them rodents, insectivores or a group in a detachment of woolly-winged wings. In addition, many families within the Plesiadapiforms have an indeterminate status, these are micromomids (Micromomyidae), picrodontidads (Picrodontidae) and picromomids (Picromomyidae). Even from this listing, it is obvious that even in the early stages of the evolution of primates or primatelike animals they were extremely diverse.

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The first representatives of broad-leaved are already like modern forms and, obviously, were their direct ancestors. For example, Colombian Stirtonia strongly resembles modern howlers, Colombian Miocallicebus – jumpers, Argentine Tremacebus – nocturnal myriquins, Brazilian Caipora – arachnids, Colombian Laventiana – Capuchin, Colombian Neosaimiri – squirrel monkeys sahmiri, Colombian Cebupithecia – saki.


It was a hard task to define the differences between different monkey types and if there is much common between them and humans.

Prehistoric woolies were much more diverse and larger than modern ones. Plagiomenoides (Plagiomenoidea), including Cynocephalidae, Mixodectidae, Placentidentidae and Plagiomenidae, and Paromomyoidea, including the Paromomyidae, are known from the Paleocene to the Eocene from North America and Europe, and from Eocene to the present in Asia. The oldest woolly wings are poorly distinguishable from the Plepidian, mainly due to the fragmented nature of the fossils but also, in the Paleocene, these groups are not so far separated from the common ancestor.

Scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute received new extensive data on the difference between the genetic material of humans and chimpanzees. Researchers have determined which parts of the DNA are repeated or, conversely, were lost during the evolution of the two branches.

For the first time, a comparison of the genetic material of several individuals and monkeys was made. So, this study can be called the most ambitious in history. It is terrible to imagine, how much data had to be shoveled not only by the machines but also by the geneticists.

But still, people do know what is the date of National Monkey Day.

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The history of this holiday is interesting and has roots in the University of Michigan, USA. It was announced in 2000 by two students of the Faculty of Arts from the Michigan State University, who later started working in the comic book industry. In honor of the holiday, a special comic book marathon was created, which continues yearly since 2004.

The day is celebrated by a noisy masquerade, during which competitions and other entertainment events are held. Being still unofficial, the holiday is so widespread that the premiere of Peter Jackson’s film “King Kong”, which had a stunning success, was held on December 14th.

The calendar gives us an opportunity to continue this tradition when Monkey Day is in 2022.

You can gather friends and watch some other movies where primates play main or support roles. Visit a zoo. Conduct a ceremony in memory of Harambe, if you like.

International Monkey Day Facts

  • The most ancient broad-leaved are authentically known from the upper Oligocene and the Lower Miocene of South America. The oldest representative was probably Branisella, found in Bolivia and has a dating of 27 million.
  • Some countries are famous for cooking monkey dishes, and such dishes are a delicacy.
  • Primates can acquire the progeny of the monkey throughout the year and this is unrelated to seasonal processes.
  • Everyone believes apes eat only bananas, but this is not so. Bananas are eaten rarely.
  • The oldest tupays from the Eocene or even the Upper Paleocene of Asia and, probably, Europe differed little from modern ones so that tupay can be considered real “living fossils”.

Thus, donโ€™t forget about our brothers and ancestors by celebrating this funny day yearly.


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