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Biology-Lecture 3 Chapter 6-The Living Primates Sep 25 2008


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Marcel Danesi

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Chapter 6: The Living Primates
y The study of primates is to understand how different primates have adapted anatomically
and behaviorally to their environments
y Results of studies may help us to understand the behaviour and evolution of human primate
y All primates, including humans, evolved from their earlier primates that are now extinct
Common Primate Traits
y All primates belong to the class Mammalia- share common features of mammals
y Except for humans they, the bodies of primates are covered with dense hair or fur- provides
y Mammals- warm blooded
y Almost all mammals give birth to offspring- develop in womb, nurse after birth
Physical Features
y Arboreal: adapted to living in trees
y All primates hind limbs are structured- support and feet grasp things
y Orangutans- flexible hind limbs that can support themselves from, withstanding
y Hind limb- one bone in upper portion, two bones in lower portion
y Double bone gives extensive mobility for rotating arms and legs
y Clavicle/ Collarbone- freedom of movement- shoulders: up/down, forward/back
y Omnivores: eating both meat and vegetation (primates)
y Molars: the large teeth behind the premolars at the back of the jaw; used for chewing and
grinding food
y Premolars: the teeth immediately behind the canines; used in chewing, grinding, and
shearing food
y Incisors: the front teeth; used for holding or seizing food and preparing it for chewing by the
other teeth
y Canines: the cone shaped teeth immediately behind the incisors; used most by most
primates to seize food and in fighting and display
y Prehensile: adapted for grasping objects-
y Opposable Thumbs: a thumb that can touch the tips of all the other fingers- even more
precise/powerful grip
y Vision is extremely important to primate life- large part of brain devoted to vision (more than
smell)- stereoscopic vision: eyes focused forward
y Most primates also have colour vision
y Large brain relative to body size
y Male primates: pendulous penis- not attached to abdomen by skin
y Female primates: 2 nipples, uterus- hold single fetus, not litter
y Infant primates cling to mother from birth- take long time to mature
Social Features
y Diurnal: active during the day
Dependency and Development in a Social Context
y Social relationships begin with mother and other adults during long dependency periods of
y Allows infants to observe and learn complex behaviours essential to survival while enjoying
care and protection of mature adults
y Without warm, social relationship w/ mother, or another individual do not appear to develop
appropriate social skills
Primates at Play
y Play is important for learning
y Provides practice for physical, social, learning skills
Learning From Others
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y Learn in social groups
y Learn by imitation (controversial)
Primate Communication
y Sound, odour, body movement, facial expressions, signs
y These features communicate such things as: age, sex, identity etc
Classification of Primates
y Prosimians: (pre-monkeys): one of two suborders of primates; includes lemurs, lorises,
y Anthropoids: one of two suborders of primates; including, monkeys, apes, humans
The Various Primates
y Depend on smell
y More mobile ears, and whiskers, large snouts, little facial expression
y Grasping hands, stereoscopic vision, enlarged visual centres in the brain
Lemur-Like Forms
y Found in southeastern coast of Africa: Madagascar, Comoro Islands
y 1.2 m long
y Produce single offspring
y Vegetarians; eating fruit, leaves, bark, flowers
y Quadrupeds: animals that walk on all fours
y Vertical Clinging and Leaping: animal normally rests by clinging to a branch in a vertical
position and uses it hind limbs alone to push off from one vertical position to another
y Nocturnal: active during night
Loris-Like Forms
y Found in southeast Asia and sub-Sahara Africa
y All nocturnal and arboreal
y Eat fruit, tree gum, insects
y Give birth to single offspring
y Bushbabies (galagos), found only in sub-Sahara Africa: hop between branches/tree trunks in
vertical clinging/leaping pattern
y Lorises: much slower, walk sedately among branches
y Nocturnal, tree-living
y Philippines and Indonesia
y Depend completely on animal food
y Insect eaters, small animals
y Night-vision, night eyes
y Skilled at vertical clinging and leaping
y Live in family groups
y Strepsirhines: means wet nose - includes lemurs and lorises
y Haplorphines: means single noses- includes tarsiers and anthropoids
y Rounded braincases, non-mobile outer ears
y Small flat faces
y Efficient reproductive systems
y Highly dextrous hands
y Platyrrhines: the group of anthropoids that have broad, flat-bridged noses, with nostrils
facing outward (Central and South America)
y Catarrhines: the group of anthropoids with narrow noses, and nostrils that face downward
(Africa, Asia, Europe)
New World Monkeys
y 3 premolars- instead of 2 (old world)
y Arboreal
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