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Lecture

ANT203 November 1.pdf


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT203Y1
Professor
Xueda Song

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SURVEY OF LIVING PRIMATES
'Primates' named by Linnaeus in Systema Naturae
grouped in Simia (included monkeys and primates)
Traits
Shared with mammals:
fur, homeothermy, longer gestation, live births, mammary glands,
heterodonty, increased brain size, ability for learning and behavioural
flexibility
Unique: relatively little because primates are very generalized physically - they are
defined more by behavioural traits than physical ones
Living non-human primates live in tropical and sub-tropical conditions throughout the
Americas, Africa, and Asia
about 230 different species
range from around 1 ounce to 400 pounds
according to the fossil record, share an ancestor at about 65 M.a., with the first
fossil primate found existing around 55 M.a. (pleisiadapis)
Extant primate taxonomy and adaptations
diversity
most of the species are monkeys, then lemurs and lorises
very little of the species diversity is due to living ape and human species
ecology
biology
body size corresponds to diet, locomotion, activity patterns
behaviour
activity pattern - time of activity (diurnal - day; nocturnal - night)
social behaviour - more complex social interactions
reproductive strategies
conservation
involves degree to which primates are threatened by extinction
most factors in endangerment are the direct result of human activity:
disease can spread from humans
deforestation
hunting (for food or other)
Primate adaptations: Habitat
rainforest (tropical and sub-tropical conditions) in the Old and New Worlds
species also exist in near-desert conditions, or very cold ones (Japanese macaques
have the northernmost distribution)
Primate characteristics
locomotion
arboreal (at least have the capacity to live in trees)
variety of movement methods (pronograde on branches, or suspensory)

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arm over arm swinging
clinging to vertical support and leaping
those that are more terrestrial are usually larger
quadrupedal, but tend to have an erect posture (at some point in the day)
generalized limb structure (more lateral arm placement allows for greater
variety of movement types)
structural components:
grasping hands and feet
pentadactyly
opposable thumbs
tactile pads
(grasping) tails (except in apes and 1 monkey species)
balance
directionality (think rudder on a boat)
if grasping: tactile and highly enervated
dentition and diet
note: tooth number is very constrained within species, so it's a good hint for
defining them
heterodont
unspecialized (relatively)
new world monkeys differentiated by extra premolar
omnivorous (connected to dentition)
advantageous under some environmental conditions
downside: greater chance of competition for diet, so primates have
adapted in several ways, including:
different feeding times
eating fruits at varying degrees of ripeness
eating from different parts of the forest canopy (ex. can be
four species eating from 1 tree)
brains and sensation
less olfaction
increased reliance on vision
binocular, stereoscopic
bony protection for eyes (vs. suspended within soft tissue)
most diurnal primates have colour vision
greater brain size relative to body mass
increased complexity, increased convolution (creases in brain - the
outer brain surface folds in on itself for maximum volume to surface
area ratio)
life history and learning
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