The Southern muriqui is a muriqui (woolly spider monkey) species native to Brazil. Muriquis are the largest New World monkeys and largest non-human native primates in the Americas. Southern muriquis are known locally as mono carvoeiro, which translates to "charcoal monkey". They have a solid black face and their body is grayish-golden in color. Their tails are fully prehensile.
Southern muriquis are found in the Brazilian states of Paraná, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, and Minas Gerais. These monkeys prefer to live in submontane and montane evergreen tropical forest of the Atlantic coast of Brazil.
Southern muriquis are arboreal and active during the day. When moving they are very fast and agile. They often feed by hanging from the branches of a tree with their prehensile tail. Their long arms and vestigial thumbs help muriquis to sway with ease from one branch to another. When moving from one foraging place to another, a group usually travels in line with one monkey following another through the forest. This helps them to avoid serious falls. Southern muriquis are social creatures that live in groups that consist of 5-25 individuals. Males are related within these groups as they stay with their natal group and females leave to join other troops. Groups of Southern muriquis are not territorial but they maintain a home range in which they forage.
Southern muriquis are polygynandrous (promiscuous) and both males and females mate with multiple partners during each breeding season. Females give birth to a single infant from May to September. The gestation period usually last around 7-8.5 months. Females provide all parental care for a newborn infant. They carry their babies, nurse, groom and protect. During the first few weeks of life, the infant is carried by its mother clinged to her belly and at 6 months it is able to ride on the mother's back. Infants are usually weaned at 18-30 months. Females in this species become reproductively mature at 11 years of age and males at around 5.5 years of age.
Southern muriquis are threatened by habitat destruction, hunting pressures, and historic population declines. They lose their habitat due to logging, intensive land-use for subsistence and commercial farming (coffee), timber plantations and cattle ranching, construction and development. These monkeys are an important food source for locals and they are also hunted for sport.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Southern muriquis is around 1,300 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.
Southern muriquis play a very important role in dispersing seeds throughout the forest. Due to one study seeds that were collected from muriqui feces and then planted almost always germinated. Sometimes even these seeds germinated faster than those that never passed through a Southern muriqui digestive system.