SDMC Characteristics of All Primates and Human Evolution Question

I don’t know how to handle this Anthropology question and need guidance.

1. What are at least three traits or characteristics that are found in all primates?

2. What are at least two traits found in Strepsirrhines (lemurs and lorises) that are NOT found in other primates?

3. If you only had a skull to look at, how do you know if a primate is a prosimian or not? What types of primates are prosimians?

4. List at least three ways that old world monkeys and new world monkeys are different. About how long ago did they share a common ancestor?

5. Thinking about omomyids and adapids, which modern-day primates are they most similar to, respectively?

6. What is significant about the fossil beds at Fayum?

7. How did Platyrrine monkeys arrive/evolve in South America: how did they get there from Africa?

8. Describe Proconsul.

9. What are at least 2 important differences between monkeys and apes?

10. Why is the end of the Miocene era significant for ape and human evolution?

SQC- Slow Quadrupedal Climbing- mainly nocturnal primates, lorises. Slow, quiet, creeping on top of the branches, used to hunt insects or avoid predation. Typical of lorises and some lemurs that are nocturnal.

VCL- Vertical Clinging and Leaping-lemurs, tarsiers (long legs and shorter arms). Movement is from tree trunk to tree trunk, pushing off with the legs and grabbing with the arms (hugging the tree).

Q/H-R/W/L- Quadrupedal/Horizontal Run/Walk/Leap (specify arboreal or terrestrial)-most monkeys (relatively even length of arms and legs). Palm walking. On top of the branches- leaps usually land horizontal or nearly horizontal to the ground, along the branches (rather than on the trunks like with VCL).

B- Brachiation-lesser apes like gibbons and simangs (long arms), arms only suspensory locomotion, swinging and hanging under branches. Though many monkeys can hang, few use this as their primary mode of locomotion.

KW/FW- Knuckle Walk/Fist Walk-most great apes when on the ground. Orangutans have to ‘fist’ walk because their long, curved fingers are designed for hanging, and cannot be bent properly to support their weight on the knuckles.

SQMC- Suspensory Quadrumanos Climbing-hanging, with all fours under the branches- orangutans or other great apes in the trees (its QuadruMANOS, rather than quadurpedal, since they use their feet like an extra set of hands. Also, importantly, they are hanging, UNDERNEATH the branches– similar to brachiation, but including the use of the feet. Large apes have to use SQMC because they are too heavy to just randomly swing to a branch and hope it will support their weight. They usually cannot brachiate, but first ‘test‘ a branch before letting go with the other hand or foot entirely.

5. Catarrhini- Old World Monkeys. This group includes all monkeys in Asia and Africa, and includes all apes. We will start with the monkey group- Cercopithecoidea. These monkeys are more diverse than the New World monkeys, and include species that live in a wide range of habitats and many ecological conditions. Though most are tropical, there are a few species that live in higher latitudes, or higher elevations. Most use Q-HR/W/L, either arboreal or terrestrial. They tend to have more sexual dimorphism than Platyrhines as well.

Leopard Monkey Alert! | Attenborough: The Life of Mammals | BBC (Links to an external site.)Leopard Monkey Alert! | Attenborough: The Life of Mammals | BBC

Monkey Spa | Cousins | BBC Earth (Links to an external site.)Monkey Spa | Cousins | BBC Earth

Many Old World monkeys do not actually live in the trees, and have adapted to live in the savannah or on the rocks. Notice the more extreme sexual dimorphism in these baboons.

The Hamadryas Baboon (Links to an external site.)The Hamadryas  Baboon

6. Hominoidea- the apes. Lets start with the ‘lesser apes’ or smaller apes, gibbons and siamangs. They are almost 100% arboreal, and one of the few species to practice true Brachiation- or swinging with the arms only as their main form of locomotion. These primates are found in Indonesia, and Southeast Asia only.

Gibbons are one of the few primate species that use true brachiation. Thats moving through with the arms only…note the very long arms, muscular shoulders and shorter legs.

Gibbon swinging through the trees very fast. (Links to an external site.)Gibbon swinging through the trees very fast.

these gibbons are making a loud call. The siamangs and gibbons at the zoo will sometimes do this and you can hear them from all over the zoo. I have no idea who the kid is in the video– just wanted you guys to be able to hear what their calls sound like… =)

Siamang Gibbons howling at Miami Metrozoo (Links to an external site.)Siamang Gibbons howling at Miami Metrozoo

7. Now we will look at each of the 5 great apes individually. First Orangutans.

Orangutans in the wild– check out how adept they are in the trees even as babies, and see if you can notice the ‘suspensory quadrumanos climbing’ (SQMC) locomotion pattern– its similar to brachiation, but includes use of the feet and legs for support, and is considerably slower than true Brachiation. Orangutans are simply too large to swing through the branches, and must first test them to be sure the branches are strong enough to carry their weight. Also notice the sexual dimorphism and extreme intelligence of these apes:Orangutans feeding in the trees | Wild Indonesia | BBC (Links to an external site.)Orangutans feeding in the trees | Wild Indonesia | BBC

Attenborough and the Amazing DIY Orangutans | BBC Earth (Links to an external site.)Attenborough and the Amazing DIY Orangutans | BBC Earth

8. Next, Gorillas. Compare how terrestrial they are to Orangutans. Gorillas will climb trees occasionally, but since they are so large, they primarily move on the ground via knuckle walking. Here are several fun clips.

Gorillas eating– check out the action of the ‘honing canines’ as they slice leaves and strip branches with their big teeth– lots of people think that those big canines mean they are viscous or meat-eating… but the real value of the big honing canines for eating vegetation is visible here… : (Links to an external site.)mountain gorilla eating bamboo (Links to an external site.)mountain gorilla eating bamboo

This next one shows mountain gorillas in the wild. Its 10 minutes, a little longer than the others. Note the knuckle walking locomotion pattern, the sexual dimorphism (Males are much larger and different coloration pattern than females), and aggressive, yet pro-social behaviors. Its fun to watch the narrator as she gets to make these encounters with a wild troop.

Family of Mountain Gorillas | Cousins | BBC (Links to an external site.)Family of Mountain Gorillas | Cousins | BBC

okay.. one more Gorilla video, mainly because I love gorillas and this one is cute. The young one is not as good at eating the sticky vine as the adult, and suffers a bit. Its interesting to think about how careful and selective gorillas are with what they eat, and how they eat it… Baby Gorilla Bamboo Feast | Mountain Gorilla | BBC (Links to an external site.)Baby Gorilla Bamboo Feast | Mountain Gorilla | BBC

9. Next up, chimpanzees and bonobos. These Hominoids are very similar in many ways, but have different behaviors, evolved over the past couple of million years. They are more closely related to one another than any other living species of ape.

Violent chimpanzee attack – Planet Earth – BBC wildlife (Links to an external site.)Violent chimpanzee attack – Planet Earth – BBC wildlife Think about the murder and cannabalism observed with these chimps. They are the only species of primate known to do this besides human… so is it ‘hunting’ or something else?

another example of chimpanzees hunting- this time for monkeys. I really like the infrared footage from above looking down at the canopy, so you can see how the chimps work together as a team to surround and attack the monkeys: Chimpanzees team up to attack a monkey in the wild – BBC wildlife (Links to an external site.)Chimpanzees team up to attack a monkey in the wild – BBC wildlife

Bonobos and chimpanzees are very closely related, maybe only separated in to species about 1 million years ago This clip shows some behaviors of both and discusses how they evolved under slightly different circumstances. Pay special attention to the end here, there ARE quiz/exam questions on the differences between chimps and bonobos… and the key is how and WHY those differences evolved:PBS | Evolution: “Why Sex?” [Chimps vs. Bonobos] (Links to an external site.)PBS | Evolution: “Why Sex?” [Chimps vs. Bonobos]

Bonobos are also known for being more female-oriented and sexual than their chimpanzee cousins, here are a couple more fun videos on bonobos:

Bonobo Chimps: Girls Rule! | National Geographic (Links to an external site.)Bonobo Chimps: Girls Rule! | National Geographic


Bonobo Love | Wild Wives of Africa (Links to an external site.)Bonobo Love | Wild Wives of Africa

I really hope you enjoy these video clips, just remember the primate sex you see here is completely natural, even between same sex individuals and adults and juveniles. They are not human!!

10. Humans. Here are some humans practicing hunting techniques that may have been the earliest type of hunting among humans. Compare this to what you observed with the chimpanzee hunts, and think about whether you think hunting behavior in chimps and humans has the same origin, or if the evolutionary origins of hunting are different for each species. (Links to an external site.)

Observe the following videos of primates in action:

1. FIRST UP. LEMURS. Lemurs are only found in Madagascar, and are some of the most unique primates. They are prosimians (meaning they are not monkey-like), and they are members of the Strepsirrhini suborder.

Sifaka Lemurs Jumping Around | Attenborough | BBC Earth (Links to an external site.)Sifaka Lemurs Jumping Around | Attenborough | BBC Earth

This link should take you to a playlist from the film LIFE OF MAMMALS. Watch the last few videos starting with “Strange mammals leap from tree to tree”-(6 videos on primates)- these are lemurs doing the locomotion of vertical clinging and leaping (VCL).

Compare another type of lemur to the sifaka lemur you saw above.. Ringtailed lemurs are more terrestrial than their cousins, and spend more time on the ground. Though the CAN do VCL, they are more likely to do Q/HRWL. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

2. LORISES- Another prosimian in the Strepsirrhini sub order. Note all Strepsirrines have wet nostrils (rhinarium), ears near the top of the head, and less opposability on the thumbs. With the exception of some lemurs, most strepsirrines are quite small. Most species are found in southeast Asia, or on islands.

Next up is a loris. Note the large eyes. Most, but not all, are nocturnal. They are super cute, but endangered. And dangerous. Lorises produce a toxin that they lick from glands on their arms, they can have a bite lethal to predators, and dangerous for humans.

Slow Loris eating a Rice Ball (Links to an external site.)Slow Loris eating a Rice Ball

A different species of loris searches in the night. They are using SQPC (slow quadrupedal climbing) on top of the branches as they creep quietly in the night.

A Loris in the Night | Wild Sri Lanka (Links to an external site.)A Loris in the Night | Wild Sri Lanka


Here are tarsiers in action. Watch them hunt and use VCL. Note their huge eyes and long lower legs. As the narrator states, the key about tarsiers is their 100% carnivorous diet. They are the only living primate to be completely reliant on meat eating (but note… the ‘meat’ is all insects). Also, the reason they are called TARsiers, is due to their extra long tarsal bones. These bones correspond to the bones in our ankles. If you look closely at the tarsier’s leg, its almost like they have two knees (one regular, and one at the ankle)… this really helps them with jumping. Though they are also prosimians (as in not-monkey like) they are not Strepsirrhini like the lemurs and lorises. Tarsiers are Haplorhines, meaning they have dry noses, larger brains, and more fully enclosed eye orbits. All monkeys are also Haplorhines, but Tarsiers have several unique adaptations, and split off earlier than the monkeys, so they have their own infraorder.

Midnight Feast – 24 Hours on Earth: Preview – BBC One (Links to an external site.)Midnight Feast – 24 Hours on Earth: Preview – BBC Onel

4. Platyrhinni- New world Monkeys! These are the monkeys from the Americas. There are ‘true’ monkeys, and have more forward facing eyes, and ears a little lower on the skull. Most are diurnal and fruit eating, though some rely mainly on leaves, and many enjoy to supplement their diets with insects when possible. Note the rhinarium- the nostrils are further apart with a wide septum. Some, but not all, Platyrhines have a prehensile tail that they can use to support the weight of their bodies. Many other New World monkeys have semi-prehensile tails, that they can use to grasp and anchor, but they are not strong enough to hold the entire body weight.

Spider monkeys using a specific type of locomotion that includes the tail. this is called SEMI-BRACHIATION

Swing Through the Trees With Amazing Spider Monkeys | National Geographic (Links to an external site.)Swing Through the Trees With Amazing Spider Monkeys | National Geographic

This one shows Capuchin monkeys… these monkeys are all over show business. Look for them in movies like Night at the Museum, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Hangover, etc. They are widely considered to be the most intelligent of all monkey species.

Monkey Insect Repellent | The Life of Mammals | BBC (Links to an external site.)Monkey Insect Repellent | The Life of Mammals | BBC

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