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Gibraltar Post’s Barbary Macaques Stamp Issue

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Gibraltar Post has released a stamp issue featuring Barbary Macaques.

The stamps were designed by Stephen Perera (photography: Jon Pointer).

Although not strictly speaking correct, the Barbary macaque is traditionally called an ape, since it resembles one in having almost no tail. Barbary macaques (scientific name, Macaca sylvanus) are Old World primates belonging to the family Cercopithecidae. In addition to the Barbary and other macaques, this family also comprises baboons, guenons and langurs. The members of this family share several skeletal features, such as a narrow nose, hindlimbs longer than the forelimbs, and a tail (when present) that is not prehensile. Due to other anatomical features mainly related to dietary adaptations, this family is divided into two subfamilies. The macaques belong to the subfamily called Cercopithecinae. One of the characteristic features of this subfamily is the presence of cheek pouches in which the animals store food.

At least 20 different macaque species are known and the macaque genus is characterised by its diversity.

One example is the tail: while in the Barbary macaque, the tail is almost not existent, the long-tailed macaque from Indonesia has a tail longer than its body. Between these extremes, all intermediate stages can be found. They have also developed diverse ecological adaptations. Macaques are found in more climates and habitats than any other primate except humans. The geographical distribution ranges from as far east and north as Japan to as far west as Morocco. But the Barbary macaque is the only one to occur in Africa; all other macaques are found in Asia.

Furthermore, the Barbary macaques on Gibraltar are the only free-ranging monkeys in Europe.

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