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4_4 Primate Behaviour_Lecture Script.pdf

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Simon Fraser University
ARCH 131
Dennis Sandgathe

UNIT 4PRIMATES 44 Primate Behaviour Slide 1 Title slide Slide 2 As discussed at the start of the primate Unit the living nonhuman primates can serve as illustrations or examples of evolutionary principles like natural selection sexual selection adaptive radiation and convergent evolution This can provide us with some idea of how early humans behaved and why we evolved the way we did The importance of this approach is reflected in the existence of Primatology as a closely related discipline to physical anthropology We have seen that sociality is one of the most fundamental characteristics of the primate adaptation as a whole Primatologists can do a costbenefit analysis the pros and cons of social living and examine how the same parameters conditions and circumstances that promote and structure social living among nonhuman primates today may have played a role in the emergence of humans over the last 2 to 3 million years Slide 3 Modern primatology resulted from a major change in the approach to studying nonhuman primates in the 1960s Prior to this most primate studies were carried out with captive monkeys and apes in zoos and any observation done in the wild was very short terma few days or perhaps a couple of weeks Nowadays valid studies involve months at the very least but more typically are multiyeared or even ongoing openended projects Jane Goodalls work among chimpanzees was likely the first of such studies followed shortly by Dian Fossys work among mountain gorillas and Birut Galdikas work among Borneo orangutans The work of these 3 researchers was instigated directly by the famous paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey who recognized very early on the potential for a better understanding of nonhuman primates to inform us about early human behaviour Slide 4 Today there are 3 different approaches to studying primates Captive studies have some major advantages and major disadvantages Subjects can be observed on a 247 basis and every aspect of their interaction with other members of their group can be controlled and observed Much more control is had over their diet habitat and social interactionand these can be varied to study different responses Individuals and groups can be put into different social circumstances and their responses closely observed and recorded Experiments like this are not possible among wild groups The downside of captive studies is that the individuals are kept in unnatural settings rather than in the conditions in which they evolved and to which they are adapted We cannot expect to see real natural patterns of behaviour We know that much of primate behaviour is structured around acquiring food avoiding predators and finding and getting access to matessuch things will not be natural in captive settings Slide 5 r of communities of primates today that have been There are a numbeartificially established by researchers or by accident in nonindigenous regions but which otherwise are now living there essentially independent or mostly independent of human involvementFor example a community of rhesus macaques was established on the island of Cayo Santiago off Puerto Rico in the 1930s and there is also a community of Japanese macaques in a large but confined area in southern Texas These animals can establish territories form their own social groups and forage for food in seminatural but easily observable conditions Their behaviour is closer to that of wild groups but more easily observed However they are not living in the exact conditions in which they evolved or to which they presumably adapted
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