Viewing and observing primates at the zoo and using them as a research subject is crucial to help with the understanding of how humans came to be. Since humans and primates are onwards of 95% genetically similar (Why are Humans Primates), observing them is a great tool to better understand humans and the relationship we share with primates. Though some research done on primates has questioned the morality of such a thing, by not observing our closest ancestors, we would not have many of the answers about humans that we have today. Non-human primates can teach us many things about ourselves, from evolution,to behavioral and social characteristics.
Apes, like humans, are catarrhines and part of the superfamily hominoidea. Apes started to appear in the Miocene about 20 million years ago(lecture notes, week 10), under this category there are many primates that are distinguished as apes, such as, orangutans, gibbons, chimpanzees, and gorillas. These particular primates are from the old world and are native to Africa and Asia. Apes can be distinguished by the foramen magnum towards the back of the skull, having no tail, and having a hook nose (Larsen 2013, p. 150). Another characteristic of apes is that they have large brains for their body size, this is important because it shows they have a higher intelligence than other animals, and this can be connected to the relationship shared with humans.
Bonobos and gorillas are often found socializing in groups but orangutans are more solitary primates usually keeping to just the children they have (Absolutely Apes). Most scientists believe that bonobos are the most intelligent of the primates(Absolutely Apes). They share many of the behaviors us humans do day to day, like teaching offspring how to get food, how to use tools, and they even play around by tickling each other (Absolutely Apes). All apes are from the old world meaning their natural habitat ranges from forests in Africa to Asia. Habitat loss is a growing threat to the apes left in the wild, forests are being cut down to make room for agriculture and the apes are left with short supplies of food and no homes (zoo sign). We need to be conscious of our actions in the wild if we want to see our closest primate ancestors thrive instead of having to deal with extinction.
There are two types of monkeys, old world and new world. The infraorder of the two monkeys consists of catarrhines which are old world monkeys and apes, and platyrrhines which are just new world monkeys. “New World monkeys are every bit as advanced as Old World monkeys with some very impressive adaptations that the Old World monkeys lack such as prehensile tails” (Primate Info Net, Sellers). Since both types of monkeys live continents away, they developed their own characteristics independently from each other. New world monkeys are diurnal, they have poor finger grip, flat noses, and brachiation that allows them to swing easily from tree to tree (lecture week 9,...