This is a primate that lives in trees, typically in fairly large groupings. They are much smaller than gorillas, and somewhat smaller than chimpanzees similarly sized primates, but larger than many species of primates.

They typically live and sleep in trees. They are gregarious and live in bands, many of whose members are typically related. Some species are able to digest the leaves of trees. Others may subsist largely on fruits and nuts, but have the ability to digest fruit that is not ripe enough for chimpanzees and other primates. This advantage counteracts the danger that a group of larger and stronger primates (such as chimpanzees) might drive them away from a food source for which both competed.

Although not as intelligent as some of the larger primates, they often surprise observers with their cleverness. They have a rather sophisticated pecking order, and social relationships as well as physical fighting ability play a part in it.