oa African Zoology - Observations on the anatomy of the tail in the vervet monkey, Cercopithecus, which bear on thermoregulatory function in the organ (Primata: Cercopithecidae)

Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



A long tail is characteristic of the Family Cercopithecidae but apart from a limited contribution to postural adjustment no other function seems obvious. The tail has a large proportion of skin which contributes significantly to the total body surface area. Because it has a widely adjustable blood flow rate and appears specially adapted for low flow rates under cool conditions a thermoregulatory function is ascribed to it. The structural arrangement of the blood vessels favours heat loss mechanisms but this may be disadvantageous under cold conditions. A system of venae comitantes affecting the upper portion of the arterial supply, which could function as a counter-current heat trap is descriptionbed. The origin of the caudal nerves and the continuation of the sympathetic chain into the fourth post-sacral vertebral segment is descriptionbed.

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