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Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)

Posted on Apr 10, 2011 by in Primates | 4 comments

Rhinopithecus roxellana

Number 0381

Golden snub-nosed monkeys live in central China, with the majority making their homes in the Sichuan province. They roam through mountain forests where snow covers the ground for half the year, eating lichens and other ploants and the occasional insect. They are endangered, and the IUCN tells us that the major threats to their continued existence are habitat loss and tourism-related activities.

I learned from the Eponym Dictionary of Mammals (I need a copy of that book!) that the roxellana part of the monkey’s scientific name comes from Roxelana, a Ukrainian woman who was captured and sold into slavery in the 1500s. She was put in the harem of the sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, where she became his favorite concubine and eventually his second wife. In his poetry, he called her his one and only love. Apparently, she had beautiful golden hair and a turned-up nose, just like these monkeys. But she probably didn’t have a blue face.


  1. very nice. Love the blue faces.

  2. Great picture, and brilliant fact about their name. These are one of the few animals that I just find… ugly. I can’t help myself! Their noses freak me out.

  3. Wonderful treatment of the golden snub-nosed monkey, both the art and the entry. I wonder what the real Roxelana would have thought of her namesakes!

    • Why, thank you, Alexandra! I was wondering the same thing. I was looking at their faces and thinking about how strange it is that after 500 years, these orange and blue monkeys bear the name of this woman who never laid eyes on them. And I doubt that I would ever have heard of her if I hadn’t researched the monkeys’ scientific name. And also, it’s neat that the scientist (or whoever he was) who named them was familiar enough with, what? the noses of famous women in history? to pick the right beautiful concubine to name the monkeys after.

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