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primate,member of the mammalian order Primates, which includes humans, apesape,
any primate of the superfamily Hominoidea, which includes humans; this article, however, focuses on the nonhuman apes. The small apes, the gibbons and the siamang, and the orangutans, which belong to the great apes, are found in SE Asia.
..... Click the link for more information. , monkeysmonkey,
any of a large and varied group of mammals of the primate order. The term monkey includes all primates that do not belong to the categories human, ape, or prosimian; however, monkeys do have certain common features.
..... Click the link for more information. , and prosimians, or lower primates. The group can be traced to the late Cretaceous period, where members were forest dwellers. As a whole, they are arboreal, although a few species are terrestrial; nearly all inhabit warm climates. All higher primates and some prosimians display some degree of social organization.
Primates are very unspecialized anatomically, and the order is more easily described by the evolutionary trends within it, tending generally toward increased dexterity and intelligence, than by specific traits characteristic of all its members. Significant trends have been the enlargement of the braincase, elaboration of the brain and of the sensory pathways to it, flattening of the face and shifting of the eyes to a forward position, development of stereoscopic vision, and increased flexibility of the hands and feet. Nearly all primates have flat fingernails and opposable thumbs and big toes.
The prosimians ("premonkeys") are small, arboreal, mostly nocturnal animals. The most primitive, the tree-shrews, strongly resemble the insectivoresinsectivore
, term broadly given to any insect-eating animal or plant. The term also refers to mammals of the former order Insectivora, in which was included the shrew, mole, hedgehog, tenrec, and solenodon.
..... Click the link for more information. , a primitive, unspecialized group of mammals from which primates branched at an early stage of mammalian evolution. The prosimians also include the lemurslemur
, name for prosimians, or lower primates, of two related families, found only on Madagascar and adjacent islands. Lemurs have monkeylike bodies and limbs, and most have bushy tails about as long as the body. They have pointed muzzles and large eyes.
..... Click the link for more information. and the aye-ayeaye-aye
, name for an aberrant primate, Daubentonia madagascariensis, related to the lemurs but distinguished by its specialized teeth and fingers. A large nocturnal and arboreal primate, it is found in dense bamboo forests in two isolated regions of Madagascar.
..... Click the link for more information. of Madagascar, the lorisesloris,
name for slow-moving, nocturnal, arboreal primates of the family Lorisidae, found Africa and Asia. True lorises, found in India, Sri Lanka, and SE Asia, have round heads, large round eyes, and furry bodies. They have no tails, and their index fingers are vestigial.
..... Click the link for more information. of Africa and Asia, the bush babiesbush baby
name for several small, active nocturnal primates of the Galagidae family, found in forested parts of Africa. Bush babies are also called galagos. The smallest are about 1 ft (30 cm) long, including the long, furry tail.
..... Click the link for more information. of Africa, and the tarsierstarsier
, small, nocturnal, forest-dwelling prosimian primate, genus Tarsius. There are at least three species found in the Philippines, in Sumatra and Borneo, and in Sulawesi. Tarsiers are about 6 in. (15 cm) long with a 10 in. (25 cm) hairless tail, and weigh about 4.
..... Click the link for more information. of SE Asia.
Monkeys are diurnal animals, generally with flatter, more expressive faces and better developed brains than the prosimians. Like prosimians, they retain the skeletal structure of quadripedal animals and usually walk or run on four feet. The New World monkeys are anatomically distinct from Old World monkeys; most have prehensile tails, and all are arboreal. The Old World monkeys, which lack prehensile tails and include some terrestrial species, are more closely related to the hominoids (apes and humans).
The apes (gibbonsgibbon,
small ape, family Hylobatidae, found in the forests of SE Asia. The gibbons are known as the small, or lesser, apes; they are the most highly adapted of the apes to arboreal life. They are highly endangered because of habitat destruction.
..... Click the link for more information. , orangutansorangutan
, an ape of the genus Pongo, found in rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra. Highly specialized for arboreal life, orangutans usually travel by grasping branches with hands and feet and moving from tree to tree. Adult males are about 4 1-2 ft (1.
..... Click the link for more information. , gorillasgorilla,
an ape, genus Gorilla, native to the lowland and mountain forests of western and central equatorial Africa. The two gorilla species are the western, comprising the western lowland (G. gorilla gorilla) and Cross River (G.
..... Click the link for more information. , and chimpanzeeschimpanzee,
an ape, genus Pan, of the equatorial forests of central and W Africa. Smaller populations are also found in the savannas of the same regions. The common chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, lives N of the Congo River.
..... Click the link for more information. ) are characterized by modification of the upper skeleton for brachiation (arm swinging) and by high intelligence. Tool use and limited toolmaking are found among apes. Humans, of which Homo sapiens is the only living species, have a pelvic structure adapted to upright posture and is characterized by the use of language and by a highly developed ability to manipulate the environment (see human evolutionhuman evolution,
theory of the origins of the human species, Homo sapiens. Modern understanding of human origins is derived largely from the findings of paleontology, anthropology, and genetics, and involves the process of natural selection (see Darwinism).
..... Click the link for more information. ).
in the Catholic and Anglican churches, the title of the chief bishops of a given country. For example, in France the archbishop of Rouen is the primate of Normandy and the archbishop of Bordeaux is the primate of Aquitaine. In Great Britain the archbishop of Canterbury is the primate of Great Britain and the archbishop of York is the primate of England.