marmoset (märˈməzĕtˌ) [key], name for many of the small, squirrellike New World monkeys of the family Callithricidae. Members of this family are all found in tropical South America, with one species found also in Central America. They range in size from the pygmy marmoset, which is 8 in. (20 cm) long including the tail and weighs 3 oz (85 g), to species about the size of house rats. Many of the larger species are called tamarins. Most marmosets and tamarins are brightly colored, and many are ornamented with manes, ear tufts, or mustaches. Their tails are long and furry. Day active, gregarious animals, they scurry through trees and chatter in shrill voices. They feed on plant matter as well as on insects and other small animals. Females usually bear twins, and it is claimed that in some species the male takes a large part in the care of the young. Most spectacular is the golden lion marmoset, with flaming, golden fur and a luxuriant mane. Marmosets have long been valued as pets. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Callithricidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.