How advanced are the primates?

Do you know how advanced are the primates? You would think that a group of mammals that included man would be the most advanced in the animal kingdom. This is not so, however. Of course, as a single species man has become the most intelligent and successful animal, but the group to which he belongs is quite primitive.

The primate group branched off from the insectivores, the first placental mammals to appear. They did this by taking to the trees, becoming more active, developing grasping hands and feet and good eyesight.

However, other primate feathers are still quite primitive when compared to further development in other mammal groups. Primates still have five fingers and toes, for example, and simple teeth.

How advanced are the primates

Indrises are found only on Madagascar. The two shown below are Verreaux’s Sifaka (left) and the Indris(right). Both are fond of basking in the sun among the treetops, turning over when one side is ‘done’.

What are the main primate groups?

The primates are a large group of very varied animals ranging from the small, squirrel-like treeshrews to man himself. The first major division is into less advanced primates and more advanced primates.

The former (prosimians) includes treeshrews, lemurs, bushbabies, indrises, the Aye-Aye, lorises and tarisers. The more advanced primates (anthropoids) include monkeys from both the Old and New Worlds, the apes and man himself.

The anthropoids have more expressive faces than the prosimians and are more intelligent. They are active during the day whereas a number of the prosimians are active only at night.

How advanced are the primates

The Aye-Aye is another strange primate restricted to Madagascar. Its middle finger is very long and by tapping it along a branch it can detect the presence of grubs in the wood. these are quickly hooked out with the same long finger and eaten.

How did the Indris get its name?

Not many people have seen Indris. It lives only in small groups on the island of Madagascar in the tree-tops of dense mountain forests. It is an odd-looking primate and at first glance could be mistaken for a long-legged man with a foxy face, crouching up a tree, wearing woolly gloves.

The European to discover this primate called it Indris because it was first pointed out to him by a native jumping up and down shouting ‘indires izy!’ All the observant man was really saying in his own language was, ‘There it is! Indrises have the interesting habit of sunbathing holding their hands out to the sun to warm them.

How did the Indris get its name?

Galagos or bushbabies are prosimian primates usually gruped with the lorises. They have long bushy tails and sleep in communal ‘dormitories’ during the day. The Fat-tailed Galago (left) is shown with a bushbaby (right).

Which are the strangest-looking primates?

The tiny tarsiers have a strong claim to this title with their large ears and enormous staring eyes. The eyes are perhaps the most fascinating feature of these curious creatures.  They are completely circular, set quite close together and stare straight forwards.

If your eyes were in the same proportion to the size of face as the tarsier’s are, they would be at least as big as dinner plates.  Tarsiers are nocturnal, as you might expect with eyes this big, lizards and spiders. They are very agile, easily leaping distances of 6 feet, balanced by the long tail trailing out behind.

How advanced are the primates

There are three species of tarsier from the Philippines, Sumatra and Borneo and the Celebes. The disc-like pads on the fingers increase the tarsier’s grip. Treefrogs possess a similar feature

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