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7 - Introduction to the Primates

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 September 2019

Joanna M. Setchell
Affiliation:
Durham University
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Summary

Primates are an order of mammals which share a set of traits inherited from a common ancestor that distinguishes them from all other mammals. These derived traits are not all unique to primates and none of the individual traits is shown by all primates. Primates range in body mass from the 30 g Madame Berthe's mouse lemur to around 250 kg for a male Grauer's gorilla. This variation in size is in line with that found in other mammalian orders and is closely associated with what they eat (diet), how they move (locomotion), and their behaviour. In this chapter, I provide a general introduction to the primates and their evolutionary adaptations (traits produced by natural selection for their current function), including their distribution and habitats, adaptations to life in the trees, diet and dietary adaptations, brains and sensory traits, life history and reproduction, behaviour and locomotion, social behaviour and interactions with other species. I then survey the major groups of primates. Throughout the chapter, I highlight terms that are common in the literature but are problematic.

Type
Chapter
Information
Studying Primates
How to Design, Conduct and Report Primatological Research
, pp. 97 - 118
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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References

Setchell, JM, Lee, PC. 2004. Development and sexual selection in primates. In Kappeler, PM, van Schaik, C (eds) Sexual Selection in Primates: New and Comparative Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511542459.012. Includes definitions of age classes.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Kappeler, P, Cuozzo, F, Fitchel, C, Ganzhorn, J, Gursky-Doyen, S, Irwin, M, Ichino, S, Lawler, R, Nekaris, K, Ramanamanjato, J, Radespiel, U, Sauther, M, Wright, P, Zimmermann, E. 2017. Long-term field studies of lemurs, lorises and tarsiers. Journal of Mammalogy 98: 661669. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyx013. Reviews the social and ecological diversity of strepsirrhines, with a focus on long-term studies. Highlights the dearth of long-term studies on tarsiers (1), lorises (1), galagos (0), and pottos (0).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Rowe, N, Myers, M. 2016. All the World’s Primates. 2nd edn. Charlestown, RI: Pogonias Press. Wonderful images of the world’s primates and a wealth of natural history information. See also the website https://alltheworldsprimates.org.Google Scholar
Strier, KB. 1994. Myth of the typical primate. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 37: 233271. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.1330370609. Reviews the problems associated with generalising from studies of a few species of primate to describe the typical primate.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Strier, KB. 2017. Primate Behavioral Ecology. 5th edn. New York: Routledge. Primate behaviour and socioecology.*Google Scholar
Tecot, SR, Singletary, B, Eadie, . 2015. Why ‘monogamy’ isn’t good enough. American Journal of Primatology 78: 340354. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.22412. A reminder of the need to distinguish between social organisation, mating system, and social structure, focussing on strepsirrhines.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

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