Primate Taxonomy

This set is not designed to be an introduction to scientific classification. Instead, it provides a basic introduction to the order Primates, and may be used as an example of classification. In contrast to some other groups, Primates share a number of common features which can be seen in live animals (or photos). These features include the development of forelimbs as grasping organs; an emphasis on vision rather than smell as the most important sense; increased brain size; reduced number of offspring (one at a time) and associated maternal behavior; and complex social groups. These features are introduced in slides 2-18. The rest of the set introduces members of each group of primates: Prosimians (20-30), New World monkeys (31-45), Old World monkeys (46-60) and Apes (61-69). The classification scheme for the Order Primates used here is commonly accepted, although experts differ on where to place the tarsier. The species names given are also commonly accepted, although there are some variants in the primate literature. This package includes a copy of the classification graphic used in the slide set and a blank world map. Both may be used as handouts.

Planning suggestion
This site 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. Appropriate break points are between slides 30 and 31 (after Prosimians and before New World monkeys) or between slides 45 and 46 (after New World monkeys and before Old World monkeys).

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

  1. Know three traits all primates have in common.
  2. Know the three types of primates (prosimians, monkeys and apes) and the differences between monkeys and apes.
  3. Have a general idea of where in the world most primates live.
  4. Know the scientific name of at least one species.