Unit 5 – Primates And Primate Evolution – Biology Essay

1559 WordsNov 30, 20117 Pages
Unit 5 – Primates and Primate Evolution – Biology Lecture Notes I. Introduction a. Primates are a group of mammals that includes monkeys, apes, and humans. b. They are atypical as a group in that they follow a generalized form that is not specialized for any specific adaptive strategy c. In addition, primates occupy every environmental niche on the planet, from the tropics to the artic. II. Primate Evolutional Trends a. Primates are distinguished by three main evolutionary trends 1) Limbs and Locomotion i. pentadactyly ii. nails instead of claws iii. prehensile hands and feet iv. ability to maintain erect posture v. retention of the clavicle 2) Dentition and Diet i. generalized dental pattern designed for varied diet ii. omnivorous subsistence pattern 3) Cranio-Neurology and Behavior i. reduction of snout and de-emphasis of olfactory senses ii. increased emphasis on vision and stereoscopic vision* iii. increased complexity of the brain iv. increased parental investment v. increased dependency on learned behavior vi. greater group cohesion vii. adult males permanently associated with the group *stereoscopic vision: when visual fields of each eye overlap and sensory information from each eye is relayed to both sides of the brain, allowing depth perception & accurate distance estimation III. Explanations for Primate Evolutionary Trends a. Arboreal Adaptation Hypothesis 1) The primates adaptation to an arboreal niche is principally responsible for most of the unique primate evolutionary trends 2) Morphological characteristics such as dentition, diet, locomotory patterns, and limb architecture are all due in some measure to the adaptation of life in the trees. 3) Physiological characteristics such as increased dependence on vision,

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