Primates are the most highly developed of all mammals with large brain, forward-facing eyes with bilocular vision, grasping fingers and toes equipped with flat nails.


Characteristic features of Primates

1) Well developed arms and hands

The arms and hands are well developed ending in flat nails rather than claws.


2) Grasping (prehensile) fingers and toes

Their grasping fingers and toes have five digits (pentadactyl) which enable them to hang from tree branches, seize food, and use tools in some of the primates. The first digit (thumb) in many primates is opposable, that is the thumb is capable of touching and resting on other four fingers for grasping.


3) Forward facing eyes and binocular vision (Two fields of vision)

Eyes are placed in front of their heads. This position of the eyes produces overlapping binocular vision that enables the brain to judge the distance between trees accurately before jumping. Binocular vision enables primates to see objects in three dimensional form.

However, some other mammals have binocular vision but only primates have both grasping hands and binocular vision making them well adapted to their living environment. Examples of primates are: monkeys, chimpanzee, gorilla, baboon and human being.


5) Highly developed brain especially the cerebral cortex- resulting in the development of intelligence.


6) Most primates give birth to one offspring or twins.


7) One most striking feature of primates is the long period of parental care of their offspring. In lemurs, the period of parental care is 2½ years, in monkeys, it is 3½ to 4 years, in apes it is 3 to 5 years while in man it is 12 to 18 years or more.

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