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Episode 184: Multicolored Mandrills

We are back to cover another primate. The colorful Mandrill amazes any that are fortunate to see it. Located in Central Africa, Mandrills are some of our distant cousins that are in danger of extinction. They also display some of the most amazing colors in the animal kingdom and just how they do this will amaze you.

Mandrill History

The first monkey emerged around 34 million years ago. The Old World Monkeys then sub sequentially evolved 24 million years ago in Africa. Mandrill evolution is less known due to the difficulty of finding fossils in Central Africa. However, one of their distant cousins, the baboon, is dated about 2 million years ago.  However, Mandrills are more closely related to other Old World Monkeys such as the Mangabey, than baboons.

Mandrills belong to the Cercopithecidae family, which are Old World Monkeys. There are 24 different genera and estimated 138 species belonging to this group. Mandrills belong to the Genera Mandrillus. Their scientific name is Mandrilllus sphinx. Drills are from the same genera and have the scientific name Mandrillus leucophaeus.

Mandrill Biology

Mandrills are thought to live up to 20 years in the wild. They average about 31 years under human care. Their behavior is very similar to other primates. Mandrills are omnivores. Much of their diet makes up fruits, nuts, shrubs, leaves and many invertebrates like ants, beetles, termites, crickets, snails and even scorpions. They do eat some meat. They will catch some birds, frogs, tortoise, rats, porcupines and even small deer such as dikurs.

The coloration of Mandrills excites scientists. You can learn more by reading these papers:

Evolution of the multicolored face Mandrill

Dominance, status signals, and coloration in male Mandrills

Whats behind a blue behind?

Mandrill Conservation

The Mandrill is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Their population in the wild is unknown but has been observed to be greatly diminished.


WCS Gabon

Jane Goodall Institute 








September 15, 2020
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