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Lecture 3

ANT 2000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Kinji Imanishi, Frans De Waal, Concealed Ovulation

Course Code
ANT 2000
Elyse Anderson

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Living Primates
Primatology tends to be anthropocentric (human-centered)
Put primatology in anthropology because it can tell us about ourselves/what it means to be
Chimpanzees/bonobos and humans share 99% of DNA in common; closest living ancestor
Nature vs. nurture debate = how much of human behavior is dependent on biology and how
much from culture? (compare how primates are so similar to us but still not us to explain
humans’ culture and how we came to be)
Earliest primate = 65 million years ago; called plesiadapiforms; dinosaur extinction, new climate
regime (brought up rainforests all over the world), broad expanse of tropical forest-favoring
arboreal species (so basically primates were favored for being able to climb trees and therefore
became more dominant in the animal world)
Gap between extinction of the dinosaurs and the appearance of primates = 10 million years
Primate features =
o Binocular vision = vision with increased depth perception from two eyes set next to each
other allowing their visual fields to overlap ------ allows judgment of depth, direction,
distance, objects relationships, and color
o Stereoscopic vision = complete 3 dimensional vision; from binocular vision and nerve
connections that run from each eye to both sides of the brain ------ allows judgment of
depth, direction, distance, objects relationships, and color
o Primate teeth = incisors (nipping, gnawing, and cutting); canines (ripping, tearing,
killing, and fighting); premolars (tearing or crushing/grinding); molars (crushing and
grinding) ------ enables variety in diet
o Acute sense of touch
o Sensitive pads backed by nails
o Opposable thumb and big toe
o Major increase in brain size, ESPECIALLY IN CEREBRAL HEMISPHERE (AREA
o Believed link to increase flexibility in primate behavior (not just instinct, processing and
o Change in skeletal form = eyes rotate forward and enclosed in protective bone; reduction
in snout size (IMPORTANCE OF EYESIGHT OVER SMELL!); more upright posture (change
in occipital region; position of spinal cord drops down lower so that the primate can be
more upright)
How primates are divided =
o Used to divide primates into prosimians (sub-order of primates) and anthropoids
o Prosimians = traditionally includes lemurs, lorises, and tarsiers
o Now we know tarsiers are more closely related to anthropoids genetically; however,
makes sense in terms of anatomy and behavior to group them with lemurs and lorises
o Believed to be more similar to ancestral primates in terms of behavior and anatomy
o Small bodied, short pointed snouts, large ears and eyes, and long tails (nocturnal?)
o Also grooming claw and dental comb features
o Anthropoids = monkeys, apes, and humans; larger, active in daytime, and live in large
social groups; divided into New World (North America and South America) monkeys, Old
World (Europe, Asia, and Africa) monkeys, and apes
o New World monkeys have prehensile tails (retain the ability to grasp); arboreal
o Old World monkeys have non-prehensile tails; some arboreal, some terrestrial
o Apes = gibbons, siamangs, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos; large, tail-less,
wide-bodied; shoulder anatomy specialized for brachiation (moving from branch to
branch using the arms, with the body suspended below)
Primate behavior (care of the young)
o Long period of adolescent development; bear few young, but devote a lot of time and
effort to care (baby chimps are nursed for five years of their lives; ten years before
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