The mandrill has one of my favorite binominal classifications: Mandrillus sphinx. The species was once a member of the genus Papio, home to the baboons. But this vulnerable species, along with their less colorful sister species the drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus), was recently reclassified and given their own genus. The largest of the world's monkeys, the mandrill was described by none other than Charles Darwin, in The Descent of Man: "no other member in the whole class of mammals is coloured in so extraordinary a manner as the adult male mandrills."
This particular male mandrill was photographed in July 2013 at the San Diego Zoo.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Jason G. Goldman is a science journalist based in Los Angeles. He has written about animal behavior, wildlife biology, conservation, and ecology for Scientific American, Los Angeles magazine, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the BBC, Conservation magazine, and elsewhere. He contributes to Scientific American's "60-Second Science" podcast, and is co-editor of Science Blogging: The Essential Guide (Yale University Press). He enjoys sharing his wildlife knowledge on television and on the radio, and often speaks to the public about wildlife and science communication. Follow Jason G. Goldman on Twitter