Essentials of Physical Anthropology Study Set 2
Quiz 6 :
An Overview of the Primates
A contemporary classification of the primates classifies them into a distinct group called, non-human primates. Non-human primates are those primates who are distinct from the humans. They hold strong relationships with humans as they have almost the similar genetic constitution. Non-human primates mainly consist of lemurs, lorises, new world monkeys, old world monkeys, tarsiers. They are characterized by a snout, cranium and nails over hands and legs. They are omnivorous and their digits are highly sensitive. Non-human primates are majorly used as research models. They are preferred more over apes and chimpanzees. Along with this, they help us in understanding about various diseases, such as, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer's disease, autism and many more. These primates have almost same genetic constitution as humans, which are required to study specific disorders. They are providing a unique set of information regarding the various human diseases. These primates are also helping the scientists to understand the role of genetics in such diseases. Henceforth, these primates act as a useful tool in building up a strong relationship with humans.
Primates are organisms belonging to a specific order of class Mammalia of phylum Chordata. Mainly, primates are sexually dimorphic. They possess an effective smell system and have a good cranial capacity as compared to other mammals. The mode of their locomotion varies, such as, bipedal movement, brachiation, knuckle walking and many more. They are classified into two sub orders namely, strepsirhini and haplorhini. Strepsirhini sub order consists of lemurs and lorises. On the other hand, haplorhini sub order consists of anthropoids and tarsiers. No primate is said to be superior to one another. Each lineage in itself is important, as it provides a new lifestyle and idea to live. The biological and evolutionary relationships among lemurs and lorises seem to be stronger than with other primates. This is so because they both belong to the same sub order, so share more similar qualities and breeding potential. It has been also seen that the new world monkeys and old world monkeys share only anatomical similarities and are evolutionary distinct from each other. This is so because both these species moved apart 40 million years ago. An evolutionary relationship is said to be established when the species become extinct. Such examples and variations explain us that the classification scheme helps us to understand the biological and evolutionary relationship among the primates.
While, some of the non human primates have extinct, some are on the verge of extinction. There are several factors which poses a threat to extinction of non human primates like habitat loss, wild life hunting and competition due to invasion of foreign species. The factors that threaten non human primates in wild are as follows: 1. Competition among specie: One of the main reasons for increased competition among specie is habitat loss. When the habitat of any specie is destroyed, they migrate to some other area, where they either pose a threat to the local specie or they become prey to other species. 2. Wildlife hunting: Wildlife hunting of non human primates has been practiced for a long time. In spite of, making several laws against wildlife hunting, the rate has not been declined significantly. Some do it as a recreational activity, while others as of honor. 3. Bushmeat trade: In recent years, bushmeat trade has emerged as another main reason which poses threat against wild non human primates. Bushmeat refers to the meat of wild non domesticated animals which are generally found in tropical forests. Slaughtering of non human primates for bushmeat has increased enormously and accounts for the loss of tens of thousands of non human primates. This poses a great threat to those non human primates who have low reproducing capabilities. Unregulated bushmeat trade sometimes also leads to smuggling of wild non human primates. The above mentioned activities are non important for human survival. These activities, not only pose a threat to extinction of non human primate, but can also lead to disturbance in ecological balance. Wildlife hunting for prestige or poaching for clothes are not required. The rate of deforestation should also be controlled in order to prevent habitat loss of non human primates. Following steps are needed to be taken in order to control non human primate extinction: 1. Afforestation: It is the utmost need of time. It would ensure a safe habitat for non human primate as well as will also prevent unnecessary competition among members of different species. 2. The ban on wildlife hunting and poaching is also a necessary step to be taken. 3. Regulation on bushmeat trade: Proper laws should be made for bushmeat trade regulation of non human primates. The non human primates who have a low reproducing capability should be banned from bushmeat consumption.