(Dr. Girish Chandra)
The name “Primate”, which means “First”, was proposed by the great Swedish naturalist, Carl von Linne, indicating the inclusion of man, the most advanced of all animals in this order. The group is divisible into three suborders, namely, Lemuroidea, Tarsioideaand Anthropoidea, the first two suborders are also collectively termed as Prosimians, meaning “primitive monkeys”. Anthropoidea includes monkeys, apes and man.
Tupaia ferruginea, The Brown Tree Shrew
T. glis, The Common Tree Shrew
T. montana, Mountain Tree Shrew
T. minor, Lesser Tree Shrew
T. nicobarica, Nicobar Tree Shrew
T. gracilis, The Slender Tree Shrew
T. javanica, Small Tree Shrew
T. dorsalis, Striped Tree Shrew
T. tana, Large Tree Shrew
Tree shrews are squirrel-like arboreal and insectivorous animals found in Southeast Asia. They have primate dentition, bony ring surrounding the eye orbits and digits bear claws, not nails. They live solitary or in pairs and mark their territory with urine and fiercely defend it by threat calls, barking and tail flicking.
AYE-AYE(Daubentonia (=Cheiromys) madagascarensis)
They are cat-sized, nocturnal, lemur-like animals weighing only 2 kg and having dark coat. Highly endangered, only 50 individuals are left in the wild in Madagascar. They have one pair of chisel-like incisors in the upper jaw as in rodents. Third finger of fore leg is excessively long, bearing a curved claw.
Bush-babies are distributed in Africa south of Sahara from Ethiopia to Mozambique. They are also called night apes or Galagos. Smallest of them is only 11 inches long but the larger species measure 75 cm. They are related to lorises but unlike them are very agile and move on trees with great speed. They are nocturnal creatures having large eyes and acute hearing power and possess a coat of soft, silky fur.
Loris tardigradus, Slender Loris.
Nicticebus caucang, Slow Loris.
Nicticebus pygmaeus, Pygmy Slow Loris.
Lorises are found in tropical rain forests of India, Sri Lanka and southeast Asia. They are shy, nocturnal, omnivorous, arboreal and slow moving creatures. Body is about 26 cm long, without tail and weighs about 350 grams. Males are solitary and females with babies.
Lemurus catta,Ring-tailed lemur
L. macaco,Black lemur
L. fulvus, Blue-eyed lemur
L. coronatus, Crowned Lemur
Microcebus coquereli, Mouse lemur
Indri indri, Indri
Propithecus verreaus, Safaika
P. diadema, Safaika
Cynocephalus variegatus, Flying Lemur
Suborder Lemuroidea contains three families, namely, Lemuridae, Indriidae and Daubentoniidae.
Lemurs are restricted to Madagascar. Nocturnal and arboreal creatures, they have large laterally placed eyes, opposable thumb and big toe and a prominent tail that they generally proudly display. Their movement on the ground is an awkward lateral hopping. They are gifted with loud voice that assists them in communication in dense forests.
They are solitary, nocturnal, insectivorous and arboreal primates that are not larger than a rat. They possess large, forwardly placed eyes for binocular vision. Tarsals of the hind legs are fused and elongated that adds to the length of legs for jumping. Tips of digits are swollen into pads for firm grip on branches of trees. Helped by these adaptations, they move extremely fast from branch to branch in search of insects.
Monkeys enjoy worldwide distribution. They are diurnal, arboreal or terrestrial with a prominent tail. Forwardly placed eyes provide them with binocular vision which is so important in judging distances while jumping from one branch to another. Four to five vertebrae are fused to form a synsacrum. All digits bear nails. There are no claws.
New World monkeys (Infraorder Platyrrhina)
Spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi; A. paniscus)
Howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus)
Squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus)
Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia)
Marmoset (Callithrix jaccus)
Woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda)
Night monkey (Aotus trivirgatus)
Red Uakari (Cacajao calvus)
White faced saki (Pithecia pithecia)
Marmoset (Callithrix jaccus)
Capuchin (Cebus albifrons)
New world monkeys have flattened faces, rounded nostrils, broad nasal septum and thumb atrophied. They are arboreal and have a prehensile tail that can be used as fifth leg. Head is comparatively small and narrow, with small eyes. Cheek pouches and ischial callosities that are characteristic features of old world monkeys are absent in these. Hands are used as hooks while swinging on branches.
Old World monkeys (Infraorder Catarrhina)
Rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta)
Bonnet monkey (M. radiata)
Japaneses snow monkey (M. fuscata)
Pig-tailed monkey (M. nemistrina)
Stumped-tailed monkey (M. arctoides)
Crab-eating monkey (M. fascicularis)
Lion-tailed monkey (M. silenus)
Hanuman langur (Presbytes entellus)
Nilgiri langur (P. johni)
Golden langur (P. geei)
Proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus)
Hamdrya baboon (Papio hamdryas)
Mandrill (Papio sphinx)
Gelada baboon (Theropithecus gelada)
Savanna baboon (Papio anubis)
In Old world monkeys, the nasal septum is narrow so that nasal openings are close together and point downwards. They are both arboreal and terrestrial and hence do not have prehensile tail. They have cheek pouches in which they can store surplus food. Ischial callosities which are used as cushion when sitting on rocks and branches may be present in some and absent in others.
1. White-handed gibbon or Lar gibbon – Hylobates lar
2. Dark-handed gibbon or Agile gibbon – Hylobates agilis
3. Black gibbon – Hylobates concolor
4. White-cheeked gibbon – Hylobates leucogenys
5. Crested gibbon – Hylobates gabriellae
6. Bornean gibbon – Hylobates muelleri
7. Capped gibbon or Pileated gibbon – Hylobates pileatus
8. White-browed gibbon or Hoolock gibbon – Hylobates hoolock
9. Mentawai gibbon or Kloss’s gibbon – Hylobates klossi
10. Silvery gibbon – Hylobates moloch
11. Siamang – Hylobates syndactylus
They are commonly called lesser apes, which are distributed in thick forests of Southeast Asia, from Assam (India), Burma to China and parts of Indonesia. Hylobates means “tree–walker”, since they are entirely arboreal and rarely come down on ground. Arms are longer and stronger than legs and are used for swinging under the branches in the pursuit of fruits and tender leaves. Swift movers on trees as they are, they can leap a distance of ten meters with ease and are known to change direction in mid-air. They are entirely herbivorous and very noisy, emitting loud calls that are quickly responded to by the others. That is an efficient way to communicate in dense forests. They do not construct nests but sleep hidden among dense foliage. Cranial capacity is only 100 cc.
ORANG-UTAN (Pongo pygmaeus)
Orang-Utan in Malay language means “Man of the woods”. They are restricted to Sumatra and Borneo, two islands of Indonesia. They are about 5 ft. tall with an arm spread of 2.5 meters and body covered with shaggy mahogany red fur. Large males may weigh up to 100 kg; have goitre in the neck and fatty cheek swellings. Females and most young males weigh half of that. They are completely arboreal and move clumsily on the ground. They are solitary in nature, coming together only for breeding. Males share no family responsibilities. They sleep in a platform-like nest made of small branches in the fork of trees. Their cranial capacity is 375 cc.
GORILLA (Gorilla gorilla; Gorilla berengei)
Gorillas are now restricted to the forests of Cameroon, Gabon, Congo and Uganda. They are the largest and the most powerful apes, 6 feet tall and weighing over 200 kg, black in colour and sporting ferocious looks. They are terrestrial and vegetarian, feeding on leaves and grasses and spend night in a nest made of branches either on ground or on trees. Old males are called silverbacks as they have silvery-grey hairs on the back. Gorillas are social, live in groups which are led by the dominant silverback males and other members follow hierarchical rankings. They have cranial capacity of 490 cc.
CHIMPANZEE (Pan troglodytes), found in Zaire, Uganda and Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Congo.
BONOBO or Dwarf Chimpanzee (Pan paniscus), found only in South Congo.
They are black or dark brown in colour, 5 feet tall, with arms and legs of same length. Bonobo is one-third of the common chimpanzee and is darker in colour. Sexual maturity is reached in 7-8 years. They are brachiators, swinging on tree branches and very playful and extremely noisy. They defend themselves by screaming, jumping, thumping ground and throwing stones and sticks. Chimps are omnivorous and sometimes hunt small monkeys and share their flesh. Their cranial capacity is 365 cc.