Primates are a diverse group and include between 300 and 400 species worldwide, this number varies depending on how they are classified. Including sub-species there may be more than 600 primate species total. They are found primarily in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. This group as a whole faces many threats and almost half of all primates worldwide are threatened with extinction.
Primates range in size from the pygmy mouse lemur weighing in at just 30 grams, to the largest, non human member of the group, the gorilla weighing as much as 450 pounds. Primates are generally long-lived and produce few young during their lifetime. They have large brains relative to other mammals and display complex social interactions and behaviors.
Did You Know?
- Primates include humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians.
- The 'Great Apes' which include the gorilla,orangutan, chimpanzee, and bonobo are all classified as endangered or critically endangered.
- Many Primates such as the orangutan are primarily arboreal or 'tree-dwelling', while others are terrestrial, spending most of their time on the ground. All primates however, are adapted to climb trees.
- Primates are known for their ability to make and use "tools". This was first observed by Jane Goodall in Africa when she observed chimpanzees modifying and using sticks as tools to collect termites.
- Primate species around the globe are threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat, poaching for bushmeat or other body parts for 'medicinal' purposes, the illegal pet trade, and infectious disease.
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Photo credit: Kjersti Joergensen/Dreamstime