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Primates

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Primates

The order Primates is a small order of well-known and very complex mammals: the monkeys. This order consists of everything from the rare ring-tailed lemur of Madagascar to humans themselves. They are characterized by their opposable thumbs and grasping hands, intelligent eyes, social structure and behaviour. Many of them are very intelligent, even being able to use tools. There are three sub-orders dividing up this order:

Prosimii:
A "primitive" species of primates, these large-eyed mostly nocturnal mammals lead a more insectivorous life than the other primates. Most of these species are endangered and most are found on Madagascar. The tree shrews previously belonged to this sub-order before being placed in an order of their own. There are 8 families:

Cheirogaleidae (mouse lemurs, dwarf lemurs) 7 spp
Lemuridae (variety of lemurs) 10 spp
Megaladapidae (sportive or weasel lemurs) 7 spp
Indriidae (woolly lemurs, sifakas, indris) 5 spp
Daubentoniidae (aye-aye) 1 spp
Loridae (lorises, pottos, angwantibos) 6 spp
Galagonidae (galagos, bushbabies) 11 spp
Tarsiidae (tarsiers) 5 spp

Platyrrhina:
So-called New World monkeys, these primates are generally small with long, slender tails. They are very agile and are characterized by a broad internasal septum separating their nostrils. There are 2 families:

Callitrichidae (marmosets, tamarins) 26 spp
Cebidae (capuchins, night monkeys, titis, sakis, uakaris, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, woolly monkeys) 58 spp

Catarrhina:
This is the most popular sub-order of primates: the Old World monkeys. These apes are generally large with a stump for a tail. The arms are generally longer than the legs. They are characterized by a narrow internasal septum which brings the nostrils closer together.

All the primates in the first three families are known as apes. They are further divided into two groups: the lesser apes and the great apes. The lesser apes are the gibbons. They are the smallest apes and found only in Asia. The great apes include the oran untan, gorilla, and chimpanzee. The great apes are very intelligent and are among the only animals, besides humans, to use tools. There are 3 families and two sub-families:

Cercopithecidae 81 spp
Cercopithecinae sub-family (macaques, apes, mangabeys, baboons, mandrills, guenons, talapois, swamp monkeys)
Colobinae sub-family (colobus monkeys, langurs, leaf monkeys)
Hylobatidae (gibbons, Siamangs) 11 spp
Hominidae (human beings, gorillas, chimpanzees) 5 spp

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