Animalogy: Primate Basics
Include the Humans, Great Apes, Lesser Apes, Monkeys and Pro-
This book will not include humans hence the title
Primates have 5 fingers (Pentadactyly). All Apes have
opposable thumbs. Many New World Monkeys have opposable thumbs
on their hands. Many species of primates also have opposable
toes. Primates do not have paws; all primate species have hands.
The sophistication of the grasping technique depends on the
Most primates have flat fingernails (excluding Marmosets
Binocular stereoscopic vision allows Apes to rely more on
vision than smell. Prosimians rely more on scent relative to
vision in comparison to their more advanced relatives. Many
species of diurnal primates have coloured vision.
Primates have long, flexible backbones, short flexible
necks, possess a clavicle (collar bone) and have large complex
brains for higher mental functioning.
There are no bald primate species. All are essentially
covered with hair. The amount, thickness and colour of hair are
variable, depending on species, age, gender and health. Serious
illness or starvation can result in large patches of baldness on
Vision in primates can be diurnal or nocturnal. A few
species of primates are crepuscular (primarily active at dawn
Some species are exclusively arboreal while others are
predominately arboreal descending to the forest floor to catch
prey or to pick up fallen fruit, to drink water or to travel.
Some primate species are predominately or solely terrestrial.
Water is obtained by eating juicy fruits, cupping leaves in
Primates have 3D vision. All apes and monkeys have mobile
eyes. Some pro-simian species have fixed eyes. In the latter
case, the eyes are basically too large for the sockets and
appear too large in comparison to head size. These primates
possess a special adaptation in their spinal cord enabling them
to turn their heads a full 180 degrees, like owls, who by the
way also have large and fixed eyes.
Primate locomotion can be quadrupedal, clinging and
leaping, brachiating or brachiating and leaping. Bipedal
travelling, if present in any primate species tends to be brief,
often comical and will never be permanent due to physiological
limitations in the food and spinal cord. Humans are the supreme