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Lecture 3

Lecture 3 -- Living Primates.docx

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ANT 2000
Elyse Anderson

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 human  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 SUPPORTING CONSCIOUS THOUGHT) o Believed link to increase flexibility in primate behavior (not just instinct, processing and reacting) 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
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