Portal:Primates

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The Primates Portal

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A primate is a member of the biological order Primates, the group that contains lemurs, the aye-aye, lorisids, galagos, tarsiers, monkeys, and apes, with the last category including great apes. With the exception of humans, who inhabit every continent on Earth, most primates live in tropical or subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia. Primates range in size from the 30-gram (1 oz) pygmy mouse lemur to the 200-kilogram (440 lb) mountain gorilla. According to fossil evidence, the primitive ancestors of primates may have existed in the late Cretaceous period around 65 mya (million years ago), and the oldest known primate is the Late Paleocene Plesiadapis, c. 55–58 mya. Molecular clock studies suggest that the primate branch may be even older, originating in the mid-Cretaceous period around 85 mya.

Primates exhibit a wide range of characteristics. Some primates do not live primarily in trees, but all species possess adaptations for climbing trees. Locomotion techniques used include leaping from tree to tree, walking on two or four limbs, knuckle-walking, and swinging between branches of trees (known as brachiation). Primates are characterized by their large brains relative to other mammals. These features are most significant in monkeys and apes, and noticeably less so in lorises and lemurs. Many species are sexually dimorphic, which means males and females have different physical traits, including body mass, canine tooth size, and coloration.

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Lemurs are an infraorder of strepsirrhine primates that is endemic to the island of Madagascar. Although lemurs often are confused with ancestral primates, the anthropoid primates (monkeys, apes, and humans) did not evolve from them; instead, lemurs merely share morphological and behavioral traits with basal primates. Lemurs arrived in Madagascar approximately 62 to 65 mya by rafting on mats of vegetation at a time when ocean currents favored oceanic dispersal to the island. Since that time, lemurs have evolved to cope with an extremely seasonal environment and their adaptations give them a level of diversity that rivals that of all other primate groups. Until shortly after humans arrived on the island approximately 2,000 years ago, there were lemurs as large as a male gorilla. These subfossil lemurs were all larger than species living currently. Today, there are nearly 100 species of lemurs, and most of those species were discovered or promoted to full species status since the 1990s; however, lemur taxonomic classification is controversial and depends on which species concept is used. Living lemurs range in size from 30 g (1.1 oz) to 9 kg (20 lb). Lemurs share many common, basal primate traits, such as divergent digits on their hands and feet and nails instead of claws (in most species). However, their brain-to-body size ratio is smaller than that of anthropoid primates, and among many other traits they share with other strepsirrhine primates, they have a "wet nose" (rhinarium).

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The brown spider monkey, Ateles hybridus, is a species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from South America. It is found in Colombia and Venezuela. Like all spider monkeys, it has very long, spindly limbs and a lengthy prehensile tail which can almost be called a fifth limb. The tail is made up of highly flexible, hairless tips with skin grooves which improves grip on tree branches and is adapted to its strictly arboreal lifestyle. It is currently critically endangered, with few examples of them remaining in the wild.

Primates News

Archives: 2009

2009

August

  • August 4 - Orangutans may be going deep to deter predators, and some are even using tools to sound more intimidating, a new study says. Read more
  • August 3 - The most malignant known form of malaria may have jumped from chimpanzees to humans, according to a new study of one of the most deadly diseases in the world. Read more

July

  • July 28 - Mani the monkey uses her own mysterious methods to tend dozens of goats without any supervision or training, according to the Associated Press. Read more
  • July 8 - Monkeys can form sentences and speak in accents—and now a new study shows that our genetic relatives can also recognize poor grammar. Read more

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Nycticebus coucang (Sunda slow loris)
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Vulnerable (IUCN 3.1)|Vulnerable

The Sunda slow loris (Nycticebus coucang) or greater slow loris is a strepsirrhine primate and a species of slow loris native to Indonesia, western Malaysia, southern Thailand and Singapore. It measures 27 to 38 cm (11 to 15 in) from head to tail and weighs between 599 and 685 g (21.1 and 24.2 oz). Like other slow lorises, it has a wet nose (rhinarium), a round head, small ears hidden in thick fur, a flat face, large eyes, small ears and a vestigial tail.

The Sunda slow loris is nocturnal and arboreal, typically occurring in evergreen forests. It prefers rainforests with continuous dense canopies and has an extremely low metabolic rate compared to other mammals of its size. Its diet consists of sap, floral nectar, fruit and arthropods. It will feed on exudates such as gum and sap by licking wounds in trees. The species is generally solitary. It has monogamous mating system with the offspring living with the parents. The species is listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List. It is threatened with extinction due to a growing demand in the exotic pet trade, and has become one of the most abundant primate species on sale at Indonesian pet markets.

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