Diet And Primate Evolution

Topics: Primate, Atelidae, Nutrition Pages: 3 (730 words) Published: November 18, 2014


Diet and Primate Evolution

In the article “Diet and Primate evolution” by Katherine Milton, it addresses the change in which the diet of primates evolves throughout millions of years and how it helps them, as a whole species, evolve and develop various characteristics, thus creating species variation. It discusses how at first, the primates are very primeval & this was largely due to their restricted diet. Secondly, it talks about the way in which they started to develop a more diverse diet and this resulted in speciation and also was related to natural selection. Lastly, it explains how their change in diet largely affected their brain size and cognitive functions enabling them to develop mentally as a species.

From the beginning, Howler monkeys have had many struggles with their diet. Just eating the bare minimum leaves and plants was not providing them enough nutrients to supply their body. As stated in the article, high intake of plants results in undigested fiber, which does not give the organism any energy. As for the lack of nutrients, howlers realized that in order to gain a sufficient amount of nutrients, they must seek out various types of fruit that are easily digested. However, fruits lack proteins (which plants contain) and therefore must have a balance of both the fruits and leaves to maintain a healthy diet. Another factor that goes along with scarcity of food would be that the environment changed along with the seasons. This made it difficult for the Howlers to eat their steady diet year long and also gave rise to the notion that these animals could not sustain themselves on such a basic diet.

Although the Howler monkey and Black-Handed Spider monkey came from the same ancestor, they didn’t share the same traits or the same dietary habits for that matter. The main source of food for the howler monkey came from a plant based diet, which obviously meant they did not each much fruit. Even in times where fruit was very minimal, they...
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