Primates – Monkeys
All our cousins and we humans! Sadly, half are threatened with extinction
You must’ve heard the popular notion that our ancestors were monkeys. Not quite, but monkeys and humans had a common ancestor. Just like chimpanzees, apes or lemurs probably evolved parallel to humans or other monkeys, sharing common ancestors—in other words, we’re all primates with long-lost relatives.
As you must’ve guessed, Primates are the smartest animals with the largest cerebral capacity and are socially advanced (the word ‘primate’ literally means “first rank”). Given that we so closely identify ourselves with these hairy relatives, one would think that most of their species must’ve been discovered already. To our surprise, more than a dozen new primate species are discovered in dense mystical rainforests each year!
Primates are organized into two suborders: the more primitive Strepsirrhines – “wet-nosed” and intelligent superior Haplorhines – “dry-nosed.” The latter rely more on sight and sound than smell. The wet nose, rhinarium, acts like Boy Scout’s wet finger, helping the primate sense the direction of the scent — predator, prey, or another species member.
Families in this order
Haplorhines – Monkeys
Some of the Old World monkeys have perfected the art of a New World urban living
The family of specialized seed-eating and fruit-husking primates
Family of the smallest simian primates, inhabiting South America’s tropics
Includes the howler, spider, woolly, and woolly spider monkeys – the largest of the New World monkeys
Family of the intelligent capuchins and the agile squirrel monkeys
The connecting link between primitive monkeys and higher monkeys
The only nocturnal primates of the New World
Haplorhines – Apes
Strepsirrhines – Lemurs
Smallest lemurs & smallest primates, weighing no more than 500 g (1.1 pound)
These Madagascans were commonly named “weasel lemur” in the past due to their swiftness
Matriarchal ‘creators of the forest’
Family of melodious singers and dancers! Home of the biggest lemur species
Thought to be extinct in 1933, it was rediscovered in 1957