Primate Biographies

There are 190-350 primate species in the world today.  Scholars generally termed lumpers lean toward the smaller number, considering some distinctions not worthy of delineating separate species. Splitters, on the other hand, tend to identify more species based on finer biological (mating habits) or ecological (habitat or behavioral) differences.  Regardless, there are far more extant species than we will be able to discuss in this course.  Therefore, all students will compile a few primate biographies over the course of the semester and share that information through a blog post and an in-class presentation.  The idea is that students will choose species that are of interest to them and thereby provide better posts and presentations containing more information with personal resonance than if I simply assigned species.  However, there are limits–i.e., not everyone can do presentations on bonobo gg rubbing!

Bonobo gg rubbing
Bonobo gg rubbing
  • Student pairs will be assigned for each presentation.  I recommend one of you prepare the blog post and the other the in-class presentation. However, you should collaborate on both.  This is an opportunity to enhance your team-building skills.
  • See the syllabus to figure out which presentation you are doing. Choose a species from the taxonomic category indicated for each presentation (these categories are taken from Nystrom & Ashmore 2008, pages 40-41).
  1. Lemuroidea
  2. Lorisoidea
  3. Tarsioidea
  4. Atelidae or Cebidae
  5. Callitrichidae
  6. Cercopithecinae
  7. Colobinae
  8. Hylobatidae
  9. Pongidae
  10. Hominidae
  • Emperor Tamarins are named for their resemblance to Kaiser Wilhelm. Frankly, they need some Firehouse mustache wax to pull off Kaiser Wilhem. Just sayin'...
    Emperor Tamarins are named for their resemblance to Kaiser Wilhelm. Frankly, they need some Firehouse mustache wax to pull off Kaiser Wilhem. Just sayin’…

    Biographies are about individuals, so your second goal is to locate an individual within that species and focus on him or her.  The easiest way to find individuals is to search zoo websites.  Secondarily, primatologists often give individuals names to identify them in their field notes and writing, and you will find lots of examples of individuals in the scholarly literature and documentary films.  This will be easy for well-known species but more difficult for those that are rare and less popular.  I challenge you to take the high road and research lesser known species.  Everyone knows Kanzi the bonobo, for instance, but how many know the names of the Emperor Tamarins at the Cincinnati Zoo (Hint: if you can’t find biographical information readily on zoo website, email the zookeepers. They are more than happy to share information with students.  Be sure to cite them as sources!).

Blog Entry

In addition to biographical information (no more than a paragraph is necessary, but more is welcome), your blog post should include the following information:

  1. Species common and scientific name
  2. Why you chose this species and what is of interest about it
  3. Taxonomic classification
  4. Habitat (where does it live, what is its ecosystem like)
  5. Locomotor style
  6. Preferred food
  7. Reproductive and social patterns
  8. History with humans (how long have humans known about it, who/when discovered, treatment by/of humans)
  9. Endangered status
  10. Zoos where we can see one
  11. Photos of the species
  • If your sources are on the internet, use hyperlinks to connect to them for proper attribution and so others can learn more.  If your sources are print, cite and reference them (or cite and link to the source electronically).
  • Be sure to use tags and categories so your post can be searchable on the internet.  Also be sure to set one of your photos as a “featured image” (at the right in the navigation panels) so it appears on the Network main page.
  • Your blog post should be completed by 6 PM the day before the assigned presentation.  When it is ready, publish it and share it in the course Facebook group (and anywhere else you want) so we can all enjoy it.  If you are on Twitter, you should also tweet it using hashtage #ant312.

In-class Presentation

Eating durian
Eating durian

Your in-class presentation need not be redundant.  Instead, the objective of the in-class presentation is to enable your classmates to experientially integrate the material they have read.  What does that mean?  It means, plan something fun that is related to your species that will get us out of our seats and be memorable.  I give a lot of latitude for such activities.  For instance, in past years I have brought in food that a primate group I am talking about that day normally eats (see photo) to talk about ecology and dentition.  Another time, I had students act out a scene in which a langur male overthrows the alpha and takes over a group (see video below).  You will get brownie points here for being creative!  However, we have a lot going on, so plan your presentation to take about 15-20 minutes.