The Callitrichidae are dwarf lineage or arboreal primates commonly known as marmosets, tamarins, and lion tamarins that evolved in the Amazon Basin where rivers are biogeographic barriers. Their small size makes them particularly vulnerable to snakes. Ferrari and Beltrão-Mendes (in press, 2011) describe a juvenile common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) attacked by a whitetail lancehead, Bothrops leucurus. The juvenile was playing with others close to the ground when the snake struck. The attack was almost immediately fatal, the juveile was dead within seconds of envenomation. However, the snake was unable to ingest the body of the marmoset, and after 10 min the viper abandoned the body. The authors note that raptors are usually considered the principal predators of callitrichids, but that their record reinforces vulnerability of these primates to snakes. Juveniles and infants may be at higher risk when distracted by play. Snakes have undoubtedly been an important slection factor during primate history.
Ferrari, S. F. and R. Beltrão-Mendes. 2011 in press. Do snakes represent the principal predatory threat to callitrichids? Fatal attack of a viper (Bothrops leucurus) on a common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) in the Atlantic Forest of the Brazilian Northeast. Primates DOI: 10.1007/s10329-011-0260-8