Cotton Top Tamarin by Frederick Dunn
The cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is a small New World monkey weighing less than 0.5 kg (1.1 lb). One of the smallest primates, the cotton-top tamarin is easily recognized by the long white sagittal crest extending from its forehead to its shoulders. The species is found in tropical forest edges and secondary forests in northwestern Colombia where it is arboreal and diurnal. Its diet includes insects and plant exudates and it is an important seed disperser in the tropical ecosystem.
It is thought that up to 40,000 cotton-top tamarins were caught and exported for use in biomedical research before 1976 when CITES gave them the highest level of protection and all international trade was banned. Now the species is at risk due to large-scale habitat destruction, as the lowland forest in northwestern Colombia where the cotton-top tamarin is found has been reduced to five percent of its previous area. It is currently classified as critically endangered and is one of the rarest primates in the world with only 6,000 individuals left in the wild.