Primate Behavior

This set looks at the behavior of primates as social animals. The topics covered are:

  1. maternal care and the interactions of infants with mother and other group members;
  2. the kinds of social groups in which primates live;
  3. the use and importance of social play;
  4. communication through facial expressions, body language, sound and scent;
  5. friendly behavior — huddling, grooming and sex;
  6. unfriendly behavior — aggression within and between groups; and
  7. how infants become part of the social group.

Examples of these behaviors are drawn from more than 20 species of primates, including humans. These materials may be best used as part of a unit on mammals, animal behavior, or even human behavior.

Planning suggestion
This slide set can be used in one 50-minute period, but splitting it into two lessons will give you and the students more time to work with the material. An appropriate break point is between slides 39 and 40 (a split between topics 4 and 5 above). If you wish to omit the section on primate sexual behavior, skip slides 41-45.

TAKE-HOME IDEAS: (what your students should remember).

  1. A simple definition of a social animal.
  2. Three examples of how primates communicate.
  3. Why play is important for social animals.
  4. Animals (and people) that live in social groups show both friendly and unfriendly behavior to each other. Students should understand how both kinds of behavior affect social bonds.