NORWICH, UK-Researchers say that some monkeys in South and Central America eat as many as 50 different species of fruit a day. A team from the University of East Anglia said that primate size and diet are closely connected.  They found that mid-sized species including Saki monkeys were the biggest fruit consumers. Larger primates including Woolly Spider monkeys were more likely to eat leaves and foliage, they said.  The research has been published in the journal Oikos.

The scientists pulled together data from 290 studies of diets in primates in Central and South America spanning 42 years. Five a day they found a clear relationship between animal size and dietary preferences. Small monkeys such as marmosets and tamarins eat more insects and less fruit. But as body size increases so does the preference for juicier foods. Species like Saki monkeys can eat between 45 and 50 species of fruit every day, often consuming their “five a day” in a hour of foraging.

Larger animals including Howler monkeys and Woolly Spider monkeys preferred leaves and foliage. “We found that the diet of medium-sized primates is most likely to be dominated by fruits,” said Dr Joseph Hawes, a co-author of the study.