Primate Anatomy and BehavioR
We, along with the apes, monkeys, and prosimians, belong to the Order Primata, or primates for short. That does not mean we were descended from the apes. Rather, it means that humans and apes have common ancestors. About six million years ago, the chimpanzees and we went our separate ways, and the gorillas had gone their separate ways earlier.
Notwithstanding, we share more attributes than primatologists thought even fifty years ago. Back in the 1960s, while studying a troop of chimpanzees at the Gombe Stream Reserve in Tanzania, Jane Goodall discovered that chimps made tools: They stripped leaves from twigs and inserted them into termite hills. A moment later, they extracted the twigs with clinging termites and promptly licked them off for a nice lunch.
Other chimp troops made other tools. In Tai at the Ivory Coast, for example, chimps cracked nuts using stones or heavy branches; unlike Gombe chimps, they did not fish for termites. Others licked red ants off of wands they inserted at an anthill. And it was discovered that they eat meat; colobus monkeys are a delicacy at both Tai and Gombe, though their hunting techniques are different.
What follows is a two-part assignment.
Comparative Primate Anatomy.
The questions of the first part involve comparing the anatomy of chimpanzees with that of humans. This involves a lab assignment, a handout on human and chimp anatomy, and Chapters 7 and 8 of the Stein and Rowe. Text
First, copy this assignment into a separate file and make three or four spaces after each of the items that follow.. Based on the text illustrations showing humans’ and chimps’ skulls and post cranial structures, compare the following (value: 3 points each feature unless indicated otherwise)
1 Prognathous features of the skulls
2 The foreheads of the skulls
3 Postorbital constrictions on their crania
4 Placement of the foramen magnum at or near the base of the skull
5 Presence or absence of a chin or simian shelf
6 Dentition of the two specimens, including their canine and diastema (4 points).
7 Placement of the back teeth of the two specimens
8 Placement and angle of the front teeth or incisors
9 Structure of their vertebrae; how do the human and the chimps differ?
10 The structures of the ilia of the human and chimp
11 The femoral angle of the chimp and human thighbone.
12 The differences between the two lower armbones
13 The difference between the hand and fingers of humans with those of apes.(4 points)
14 The differences between the foot bones of human versus those of chimps’
15 What is an arch and how many arches are there in the human foot;
16 Do chimps and humans both have opposable toes? Make a comparison.
The second set involves viewing two videos in class. The first video is The New Chimpanzees and focuses on subsistence and hunting, politics and conflict, and relationships between individuals. The second video, Conversations with Koko, deals with the ability of a female gorilla to use sign language.
Please answer the following questions (total possible: 50 points) from The New Chimpanzees:
1 What are the differences in hunting strategies between the chimps at Gombe and those at Tai? Why do they differ? (
2 Chimps and bonobos have different dominance hierarchies. Describe and compare the one among chimps with the one among bonobos, using examples
3 How do chimps and bonobos resolve their conflicts? Provide specific examples from what you observed in the film
4 Are we a make love, not war, society? What do behavior of the chimps and bonobos tell us?
5 From Conversations with Koko, does a primate need to speak in order to have language? If so, why? If not, how does she manage to communicate? How does she invent expressions for things she has no “words” for? Finally how would you define language?
6 Describe the implications of comparative primate anatomy and behavior for reconstructing the anatomy and the behavior of fossil hominins. See Chapters 3, 7, and 8 of the Stein and Rowe text and page 6 of the comparative primate handout for some clues and select some examples to illustrate. (grading is based on how well you argue your answer, not on what position you take.
A Conversation With Koko The Gorilla: Full Documentary
Video can be found on youtube
The New Chimpanzees;
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