7 Curious Facts About Baboons

Baboons have a clear sexual dimorphism, whereby males are usually larger and stronger than females. In some cases, the difference in weight and size between the two can almost double.
7 Curious Facts About Baboons
Cesar Paul Gonzalez Gonzalez

Written and verified by the biologist Cesar Paul Gonzalez Gonzalez.

Last update: 12 November, 2022

Baboons are a group of primates famous for their lack of hair on their rump and face. Although it’s true that they aren’t very sociable specimens, their physical characteristics are unmistakable even among other hominids. Thanks to this and other curious facts about baboons, these mammals are very popular!

Contrary to what one might think, there are several species belonging to the genus Papio that are known as “baboons”. They’re close relatives of mandrills and talapoins, which belong to the so-called old-world monkeys. Continue reading this space and discover some curious facts about baboons.

What do baboons look like?

Baboons are medium-sized animals that measure on average between 50 and 90 centimeters (20 to 35 inches) long. They maintain the same physiology as all primates, with a broad body, slender limbs and an arched tail. However, they differ in the fact they have a longer and thinner jaw, with large canines and a strong bite.

These primates are mainly found in Africa, although there are some specimens that also inhabit the Arabian Peninsula. For this reason, their habitat includes both savannah grasslands and some arboreal areas.

Facts about baboons.

Little-known facts about baboons

Baboons are known for their peculiar appearance. However, there are some curious aspects of this group that not many people know about.

1. They’re very aggressive

Although their appearance may seem harmless, baboons are characterized by aggressive and sometimes exaggerated behavior. In addition, this type of behavior intensifies during the breeding season, as several specimens even chase their aggressors if they dare to attack them.

2. They don’t have many predators

One of the most curious aspects of baboons is that their specimens have few predators. This is due to their aggressive behavior, with which they chase away most animals. In fact, only leopards, crocodiles, and lions could win a battle against these primates, but they don’t always come out unscathed.

3. They form large groups

Despite their aggressive behavior, baboons tend to form groups of between 5 and 200 individuals in total. Of course, they maintain a hierarchical structure where the strongest male leads all others. However, it’s normal for internal conflicts (fights) to reign in the community.

Some baboons.

4. Their tail isn’t prehensile

Although baboons may have arboreal habits, they don’t have a prehensile tail to help them hold on to branches. Still, they’re very adept on trees thanks to their opposable thumbs, although they prefer to spend most of their time on the ground.

5. Their vocalizations are quite complex

Vocalizations in baboons are essential for internal group communication. In fact, the combination of various sounds (screams, grunts, or barks) and noises (lip smacking or yawning) is their language. In addition, they’re capable of inventing new combinations to describe new situations in their environment.

6. Their rump is covered by a callus

Baboons are also known to have a peculiar rump with vivid colorations (in some species). Contrary to appearances, this area is actually covered by a bulging callus that protects and cushions its weight.

7. There are 6 species of baboons

The taxonomy of baboons has changed several times over time. However, only 6 formal species are currently recognized:

  • Olive baboon (Papio anubis)
  • Guinean baboons (Papio papio)
  • Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus)
  • Kinda baboon (Papio kindae)
  • Yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus)
  • Hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas)

As can be seen, baboons are a curious and peculiar group of animals. Although their distribution is quite restricted and you’re unlikely to have contact with them, this doesn’t detract from how majestic this species is. In fact, it could be said that they’re a clear reference point of African and Asian fauna.

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  • Boë, L. J., Berthommier, F., Legou, T., Captier, G., Kemp, C., Sawallis, T. R., … & Fagot, J. (2017). Evidence of a vocalic proto-system in the baboon (Papio papio) suggests pre-hominin speech precursors. PloS one, 12(1), e0169321.
  • Owren, M. J., Seyfarth, R. M., & Cheney, D. L. (1997). The acoustic features of vowel-like grunt calls in chacma baboons (Papio cyncephalus ursinus): Implications for production processes and functions. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 101(5), 2951-2963.
  • Ennaji, F. E., Fagot, J., & Belin, P. (2022). Categorization of vocal and nonvocal stimuli in Guinea baboons (Papio papio). American Journal of Primatology, e23387.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.