Baboons are classified taxonomically as members of the genus Papio, the tribe Papionini, the subfamily Cercopithecinae, the family Cercopithecidae, the superfamily Cercopithecoidea, and the infraorder Catarrhini.  The infraorder Catarrhini includes Old World monkeys, apes, and humans.  Baboons occur in five main forms and are traditionally classified as five separate species: the olive or anubis baboon, the yellow baboon, the hamadryas or sacred baboon, the Guinea or red baboon, and the chacma baboon.

These five forms of baboons are not true biological species because they form hybrid zones at most species/subspecies borders for which data are available (Phillips-Conroy and Jolly 1986; Samuels and Altmann 1986; Jolly 1993, 2003; Alberts and Altmann 2001; Burrell 2009). The best-studied of these hybrid zones is that between anubis and hamadryas baboons along the Awash River in central Ethiopia. Olive-hamadryas hybrid and mixed groups within the hybrid zone have been studied by Ueli Nagel (1971, 1973), Hansueli Müller (1980, unpublished), Kazuyoshi Sugawara (1979, 1982, 1988), and members of the Awash National Park Baboon Research Project (Jolly and Brett 1973; Brett et al 1977, 1982; Phillips-Conroy and Jolly 1981, 1986, 1988; Phillips-Conroy et al 1986, 1992, 1993, 2000; Nystrom 1992; Beyene 1993, 1998; Bergman 1999; Jolly & Phillips-Conroy 1999, 2003) over the past several decades.


Content contributed by:

Dr Larissa Swedell

Thanks to the following reviewers:
Dr Susan Alberts
Dr Cliff Jolly


For a more scholarly version of the information on these pages, see:
Swedell, L (2011) African Papionins: Diversity of Social Organization and Ecological Flexibility. IN Primates in Perspective, Second Edition (Campbell CJ, Fuentes A, MacKinnon KC, Bearder SK, Stumpf, RM, eds). New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 241-277.

When using information on these pages, please cite the URL of the specific page from which you acquired the information. For scholarly citations of this material, please cite the above chapter by L. Swedell, available as a pdf by emailing the author.  Please credit either this website or the above chapter for any and all use of this material.