ANTH 185; Primate Behaviour

ANTH 185; Primate Behaviour

Writing Assignment for the Primate Observation Project

ANTH 185

Spring 2016

Now that you have observed the primates, it is time to write a short paper about one behavior that you found interesting. 


Information:  You must include the following information:

                1) Introduction

                2) A description of the behavior or trait you observed

                3)  An explanation from the academic literature explaining the advantages of the trait

                4)  An explanation of the variation of the trait (within or between species)

                5)  Conclusion 

Page requirementsA minimum of 2 pages full of text. You may use four lines (single spaced) at the top of the page for your name, Class information, Semester, and Date.  Then, you should hit “Enter” twice before inserting a title unique to your paper.  From this point, the remaining paper may be double-spaced.  If you insert charts, graphs, tables, pictures, or any other visual aid, you must still write 2 pages full of text.  The reference page should be on page 3 or higher.  Title pages are not needed and not included in the page count.

References:  You are required to use 1 peer-reviewed journal article (a.k.a scholarly journals) and two additional sources.  The library database is an excellent way to locate these articles.  Please keep in mind that the use of ideas, comments, research, or anything else from an outside source requires that you cite the source and include a complete citation on a reference page (use MLA or APA format).   After you have included your 1 peer-reviewed article in the paper, you can use any type of reference material except for the following: websites that do not contain the name of the author writing the material, videos, and lecture notes.


Text: Times New Roman

Font: 12

Spacing:  Double space

Margins: 1 in

Insert page numbers   


Submitting the paper: You need to submit your paper with the observation forms.  These must be submitted as hardcopies in class.


Back-up plan:  What do you do if you can’t submit the paper in-class on the due date?  You you should email a copy to .  This will prevent a late penalty from being applied to your project.  You are still responsible for submitting a hardcopy.  Electronic versions won’t be graded.

Primate Observations Forms:





Most of the information you need to fill in the forms will be obtained from your observations, but you might find some of the answers on the signage that is in front of the enclosure.

What are you going to observe?

  1. One strepsirhine (prosimian) species
  2. One new world monkey species
  3. One old world monkey species
  4. One ape (lesser or greater) species

You will need to fill out one form for each primate.  Each form is 4 pages (5 including this page).  You will need to bring 4 copies with you to the zoo.

If you visit the zoo with one of your classmates, you are still responsible for conducting your own observations.  This is not a group assignment!

Watching documentaries will also enable you to complete this option.  You will need one documentary per primate species.  Each documentary should be 50-60 minutes in length.  Documentaries used in class should not be used.




Date of observation:





Time observation began:


Time Observation ended:


Common name:   __________________________________________________


Scientific name of primate:  ___________________________  _________________________


Suborder:                                                          Family:


Infraorder:                                                         Genus:


Superfamily:                                                     Species:




Description of enclosure (# trees, play toys, feeders, rocks, water, etc…)







Where does this primate live (country or region—name at least one)?


In the wild, does this primate live in a savannah or rainforest?


Number of primates in the enclosure:


Adult females: ____________               Adult males:  ___________   Undetermined sex: __________

Juvenile females: __________              Juvenile males: __________   Undetermined sex: __________

Infants:  _________________

What size group does this primate live in in the wild? What social organization (monogamous, polyandrous, SMMF, MMMF, solitary) do they display in the wild? Is the zoo group the same?  Why or why not?







Physical characteristics: Describe the physical features of the primate (facial features, coloration, hair patterns, etc..).






Approximate body size (estimate or compare to familiar animals—dogs usually make a good comparison):



What are the limb proportions?  Which are longer, the arms or legs?


Tail? Prehensile? Describe how the tail (if present) was used:



Does this species demonstrate any sexual dimorphism (differences in size between males and females)?  If so, what are the differences?





Motor behavior: Describe the primates’ locomotion. Primate usually have a primary form of locomotion (vertical clinger and leaper, arboreal/terrestrial quadruped, brachiation, bipedalism), but also use a variety of forms depending on their location in the enclosure(ground, trees, hanging structures).


Primary form of locomotion:  ___________________________________


Other forms of locomotion observed:  ______________________________________________



Identify the different grips:  What were they doing when (or if) they used these grips?

1. precision grip – between tip of thumb and other digits



2.  power grip – thumb and other digits wrapped around opposite sides of object



Social behavior:

Describe the interactions between individuals that you observe.  Please include the age/sex of the participants.  If you do not observe interactions between two or more primates, then include individual behaviors.

Some behaviors to watch for: Foraging (food sharing/stealing), Aggression (chasing, biting, hitting, etc….), Grooming (by oneself or with others), Adult/Infant interactions, and Dominance/submissive displays, Mating behaviors (presenting, mounting), and Interactions with humans.  Remember these are just a few, write down everything you see whether it is one this list or not.

















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