Primate and Anthropology Primates

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Lori Watkins



Primates belong to the biological order “Primates” that include all species related to lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans. Non-human primates are found all over the world, but are primarily centralized in Central and South America, Africa, and Southern Asia. Primates are divided into three main groups: prosimians, Old World and New World monkeys. Prosimians are the most ancestral extant primates and represent forms that were ancestral to monkeys, apes and humans. Old World monkeys are originally from Africa and Asia, while New World monkeys are unique to Central and South America. Interestingly, New World monkeys are believed to have migrated across the Atlantic Ocean to South America on a raft of vegetation similar to the pieces of floating mangrove trees that storms occasionally break off from the tropical African coast. Despite the morphological and behavioral differences between species of primates, there are a set of characteristics that generally define primates. All primates have a bony ring around the eye socket, hands and/or feet that have the ability to grasp, nails instead of claws on the end of the digits, a long gestation period, a slow post natal growth rate compared to maternal body size, large brain relative to body size, and binocular vision. Taken together, these characteristics define the living primates, and also provide the physical link between humans and our primate relatives (Fuentes, 2007). The golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) is a small New World monkey of the family Cebidae. It is found in southeastern Brazil and is one of the rarest animals in the world (Lang, 2005). It has four well articulated grasping hands with very little padding on its palms. It moves and lives in the understory of the forest and runs from branch to branch but on occasion, it will “leap” between the tree

limbs. Although, this species of monkey shows no signs of bipedalism, it has the ability to stand...
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