The four species of lion tamarins make up the genus Leontopithecus. They are small New World monkeys named for the mane surrounding their face. Living in the eastern rainforests of Brazil, like all other callitrichids they are arboreal. Lion tamarins weigh up to 900 grams (2 pounds) and are about 30 cm (12 inches) long, with tails about 45 cm (17 inches) long. They jump through trees using their fingers to hold onto branches and their claws to dig under the bark to search for insects to eat. They also eat some snakes, small lizards and small fruits.
Lion tamarins tend to live in family groups, with both parents sharing different tasks of child-rearing the yearly twins. The mother nurses her young every two to three hours, and the father carries the babies on his back.
Diurnal tree-dwellers, they sleep in tree cavities at night, and also seek shelter during the hottest part of the day.
The different species of lion tamarins are easily discernible from each other, based upon the coloration of their fur:
- Golden lion tamarin, L. rosalia — golden fur all over, mane sometimes darkening or black
- Golden-headed lion tamarin, L. chrysomelas — black fur with golden face, arms, and tail
- Black or Golden-rumped lion tamarin, L. chrysopygus — black fur with a dark gold rump
- Superagui or Black-faced lion tamarin, L. caissara — golden fur with black face, arms, and tails
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 133. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3.
- Rylands AB and Mittermeier RA (2009). "The Diversity of the New World Primates (Platyrrhini)". In Garber PA, Estrada A, Bicca-Marques JC, Heymann EW, Strier KB. South American Primates: Comparative Perspectives in the Study of Bahavior, Ecology, and Conservation. Springer. pp. 23–54. ISBN 978-0-387-78704-6.