Japanese snow monkeys

Monkeys are humans’ closest relatives on the tree of life. Humans and chimpanzees, for instance, are sharing 97.6% of their genome. Macaques—that’s how the Japanese snow monkeys are called scientifically—are little bit more distant, it means they are sharing less genetic code with humans, but it doesn’t means they look really different.

Among all primates only humans and Japanese macaques are living in the areas cold enough to be covered in snow for the whole winter. This isn’t a big deal for the modern humans who can use all the Columbia outwear, electric faux fireplaces and the tons of hot coffee. For the little monkeys living in the snows of the mild but still snowy and quite cold Japanese winter their fur is the only protection from the freezing temperatures.

1. Japanese macaque in the snow. Photo by Lydia T.

Fortunately, primates won’t be primates if they wouldn’t come up with something. And the snow monkeys indeed come up. Japan is the land of the pretty nasty volcanic activity. It causes a lot of troubles for all the islands dweller sometimes, like a year ago, but most of the time the byproducts of the high seismic activity are as peaceful as the hot springs.

Humans began using the hot springs for bathing as early as they’ve first arrived to the Japanese islands. Macaques, on some stage, have picked this habit from humans and began bathing in the hot springs themselves. The only difference is that they do it to escape the cold weather rather that for the hygienic purposes.

2. Baby macaque in the hot spring. Photo by Mash Hatae

3. Japanese snow monkeys are sitting by the pool. Photo by Lydia T.

4. Japanese macaques are grooming each other in the hot springs pool. Photo by Terry Reilly

5. One old macaque with its head covered in snow. Photo by Lydia T.

6. Baby Japanese snow monkey freezing in the cold weather. Photo by Wajimacallit

7. Grooming macaques. Photo by Matt Webster](grooming-macaques.jpg

8. Japanese snow monkey is sleeping by the hot spring. Photo by Matt Webster

9. Japanese snow monkey is warming its hands. Photo by Matt Webster

10. One distressed monkey. Photo by Lars, www.atowaku.com

11. Snow monkeys from the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Photo by Christopher Liang

12. Baby monkey and its mother. Photo by Wajimacallit

13. Snow macaque in the bucket. Photo by Anjuli Ayer, Eyes Wide Photo

14. Joyful macaque in the snow. Photo by Jean-François Chénier

15. Japanese snow monkey. Photo by Porter Yates

3 thoughts on “Japanese snow monkeys”

  1. Ummm just a correction, chimpanzees are apes, not monkeys

    we are closest in relation to apes, not monkeys

  2. Indeed, just wanted to point that out because many made the mistake of thinking one is the other (ape vs monkey) or thought that the two are interchangeable…

    they are not, while we can argue that based on their origin there is an overlap, ape and monkeys have clear distinct separation in their classification, even more so with great apes (of which humans are closest in relation genetically), some of the more zealous ppl will take offense when you call chimpanzee monkeys or gorilla as monkeys as it signifies great ignorance to them (but i have no trouble with it aside of pointing it out) so it pays to be careful there.

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