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4_1 Primate Characteristics_Lecture Script.pdf

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Simon Fraser University
ARCH 131
Dennis Sandgathe

UNIT 4PRIMATES 41 Primate Characteristics Slide 1 Title slide Slide 2 Humans belong to the Order Primata we are primates like monkeys and apes and within the animal kingdom and even just among mammals primates are a very unique group While humans possess some characteristics unique from other primates we also have many of those characteristics that distinguish primates from all other species Slide 3 Why do Physical or Biological Anthropologists study primates Well there are 2 main reasons 1 The first is that as humans closest living relatives in the animal kingdom we share a recent evolutionary ancestry with all other primatesespecially with the great apes chimpanzees gorillas and orangutans This means we all share a common adaptive past aspects of anatomy and physiology diet and social behaviour Therefore by studying modern primates we can get a good idea of how much of our own evolutionary past lookedwe can identify major stages along our evolutionary path shared by all primateswhen you study primate evolution you study human origins 2 Secondly we also want to study the actual evolutionary processes of our shared history the natural selection and sexual selection forces that drove the change and speciation events that occurred along the primate evolutionary tree leading up to us A lot of the specific processes of natural and sexual selection that are acting on different modern primate species are similar to those that likely played a role in our own emergence as a distinct human species Slide 4 Lets begin by briefly taking a big step back and reviewing the place of primates in the animal kingdom taWithin the animal kingdom primates belong to the Phylum Chordathat isanimals that contain a spinal chord Slide 5 Of the phylum chordata we belong to the class mammaliathese are animals that with rare exceptions share some major characteristics they are warm blooded give birth to live young have mammary glands and are covered with hair Of the estimated 5 to 10 million species of animals that are alive today nobody really knows the real number only about 4000 are mammals Slide 6 The class Mammalia is divided up into 3 infraclassesMetatheria these are the marsupials and this groups is almost exclusive to Australia Prototheria these are referred to as monotremes and are a very limited groupit includes only the platypus and echidnathe third group is Eutheria or placental mammalsit is the infraclass Eutheria that primates belong to Slide 7 Eutheria includes about 2 dozen different orders of which Primates is oneThere are about 250 species of primatethis is a similar degree of variety as among the order carnivora but the order insectivore includes about 380 species
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