Human grooming by Daniel Laberge
Human grooming homepage Daniel Laberge homepage

Primates - A family portrait

• Click on an image to display a larger version
The primates - Cladogram

All from a common ancestor

What is amazing about this stunning diversity of species is that they have all stemmed from a common ancestor called; the first primates.
Because of the importance of this subject, the next chapter is dedicated to it.
Studying primates helps us understand our own evolution.

General primate characteristics

•Opposable thumb,
•Flat nails,
•Four limbs plus tail,
•Delayed sexual maturity,
•Reduced number of offspring,
•Increased maternal care,
•Enlarged brain,
•Closely spaced eyed pointing forward,
•Acute stereoscopic vision,
•A shortened snout,
•Social behavior,
•Arboreal lifestyle,
•Generally defenseless animals.

Platyrrhini or Catarrhini?

•Platyrrhini means «flat nose» and represents «New world monkeys» with their sideways facing nostrils.
•Catarrhini means «narrow nose» and describes «Old world monkeys» and Apes with their downward pointing nostrils.

New world monkeys

About 40 million years ago, it is believed that some primates somehow crossed the Atlantic.
Over time, they have evolved to exploit the possibilities of the New world and have diverged into numerous species.
They can be found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.
Many New world monkeys have a prehensile tails that can feel and grasp. Some use it as a fifth limb.
They are mostly small and arboreal.
Their thumbs are not opposable to their fingers.

Old world monkeys

It is thought that their last common ancestor came later in time than the New world monkey's.
Found in Africa and Asia, Old world monkeys are relatively large.
They have a non-prehensile tail with a sitting pad of thick, hardened skin around it.
Many have cheek pouches to hold food.
They have developed trichromatic vision, lacking in most New world monkeys.
Though they are mostly arboreal, the size increase in some species has resulted in more terrestrial forms.
Most are omnivorous, but they all prefer plant matter.


Apes are important to us, apes are us.
They have their own section.


Left arrow Previous   Next Right arrow









First primates /> Galago /> Loris /> Lemurs /> Tarsier /> Capuchin monkey /> Tamarin monkey /> Marmoset monkey /> Titi /> Douroucouli /> Squirrel monkey /> Saki /> Uakari /> Howler monkey /> Woolly monkey /> Spider monkey /> Douc monkey /> Patas monkey /> Vervet monkey /> Green monkey /> Guenon /> Langur /> Gelada /> Baboon /> Mangabey /> Mandrill /> Talapoin /> Proboscis monkey /> Colobus monkey /> Macaque /> Gibbon /> Orangutan /> Gorilla /> Chimpanzee /> Bonobo /> Human />