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About Primates


Primates are mammals that includes prosimians and simians.

Primate Classification:

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates

The order of primates includes: humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians.There is little agreement in the number of species included in the primate family, some say there are as few as 190 species while others boast 350 species.

The Order Primates is divided into two Suborders. The first suborder is the Strepsirhini (also known as lower primates) which includes: lemurs and lorises. The second suborder is the Haplorhini (also known as higher primates) which includes: monkeys and apes.

Classification Status: Many primate species are in danger of becoming extinct. It estimated that 1/3 of the primates are critically endangered or vulnerable. Many primate species have declining populations due to deforestation, and human encroachment.

Size: Primates species vary in size. The smallest primate is the Pygmy Mouse Lemur which weighs in at a mere 2 oz! The largest primate is the Gorilla weighing in at 440 lbs.

Habitat: Non-human primates are primarily located in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The number of primate species within tropical areas has been shown to be positively correlated to the amount of rainfall and the amount of rain forest area.

Behavior: Primates are known to be very successful at adapting to different environmental opportunities. With the exception of humans and gorillas, primates are arboreal, and spend a good portion of their time in trees. Even the primate species that are terrestrial often sleep in the trees.

Diet: Most primate species are omnivorous, though due to the accessibility of fruits and vegetables they often eat primarily a vegetarian diet. The majority of primates have a diet that consists of fruit, leaves, stems, buds, and insects, although some do eat meat.

Description: All primates except Spider monkeys have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot.

Communication: Primates communicate using complex vocalizations and visual displays. Primates will also often groom each other.

Did You Know?

There are more 300 species of primates in the worldfrom humans and apes to monkeys and prosimians

Some distinguishing characteristics of primates include:

- Forward facing eyes (allowing depth perception)

- Relatively small, hairless ears

- Increased reliance on vision

- Opposable Thumb (or partially opposable)

- Social organization

- Facial mobility (for expressions) and large vocal repertoire

- Most primates have one pair of mammae in the chest

- Small letters (usually only single births)

Social Structure: Primates are highly social creatures, with complex social groups, and an advanced social structure.

Where to Find Some Primate Species

Primates Found in Africa

Colobus Monkeys

Primates Found in South and Central America


Primates Found in Asia

Colobus Monkeys





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Cotton Topped Tamarin

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