Anthropological Sciences / Biology 330

ANSC: Primatology

Prerequisite: BIOL 131 or ANSC 101 and ANSC 201

Cross-Listed: BIOL 330

Credit Hours: (3)

A survey of both living and past primates as unique members of the animal kingdom. It includes discussions of general primate characteristics, taxonomy of living primates, primate behavior and primate (including human) evolution.

Note(s): Students cannot receive credit for both ANTH 330 and ANSC 330.

Detailed Description of Content of Course

Humans belong to a unique, but highly diversified Order within the animal kingdom known as Primates. The biological and behavioral features all primates share in common as well as the variability in the expression of these features are the focus of this course. Students will not only examine biological and behavioral aspects of living primates but will trace the evolutionary development of these phenomena through a detailed consideration of primate fossil material. The ultimate goal of such a broad outline of study is to give students a better understanding of what it means to be a primate. A more detailed outline of the course is as follows:

1. A review of general features which distinguish primates from other mammals in the animal kingdom.
2. A taxonomic survey of all major groups of primates (Prosimians, New World Monkeys, Old World Monkeys, Apes, and Humans) in terms of their geographic dis- tribution, ecological habitat, dietary preferences, and postural (locomotor) adaptations.
3. A detailed comparison of humans to other primates (especially apes) in terms of anatomical and behavioral
similarities and differences.
4. Behavioral studies of primarily free-ranging primates.
5. Primate origins by reviewing the fossil evidence through 65 million years of prehistory.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Lectures on primates will be supplemented by slides and hands-on manipulation of comparative skeletal material demonstrating primate anatomy. Primate behavior will be assessed not only by having students read numerous research articles (primary sources) on this subject but also by viewing films illustrating aspects of primate social behavior.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

1. Students will be given a better understanding of the origin, development, and variability of primates (including humans) as unique members of the animal kingdom.
2. Students will be encouraged to engage in an anthropological approach to the study of both living and past primates by focusing on such diverse topics as primate morphology, anatomy, evolutionary origins, and behavioral similarities and differences.
3. Students will be presented a broad but detailed survey of the Order Primates.

Assessment Measures

In addition to regular in-class examinations (both objective and essay form) on lecture topics, a research paper will also be required. This paper must explore some aspect of primate anatomy, adaptation, behavior, or evolutionary development.

Other Course Information


Review and Approval

January 2004
December, 2009
Revised: March 20, 2012