Animal Diaries Archive
Us and Them
Primates are currently off display
21 March 2008
Welcome back to the WILD world of our primate animal diaries! In this chapter, we will be looking at some of the habits, characteristics and ways various non-human primates live their lives, in comparison to US!
All primates need the same basic things in life such as food, ability to move, general hygiene, and communication. Due to various factors such as physical ability, environmental surroundings and available resources, each species has evolved its own method of dealing with each of these issues.
To be able to survive, we all need to move; whether it is to gather food or find a suitable resting area, it is necessary for all primates. We think nothing of it when we jump in the car to go to the cinema, or when we hop on a plane to go on our summer holiday. Just imagine seeing a Gorilla speed past you on a motorbike or a Lemur paddling past in a canoe! Many primates have come up with their own effective ways to manoeuvre around their habitats. The Gibbon for example, with its elongated arms, flies through the forest canopy with ease, swinging from tree branch to tree branch in search of food. And the Sifaka, who’s body is designed to leap huge distances between tree trunks rather than run along the ground on all fours, has developed an intriguing side-step ”dance” as a way to move along the ground when absolutely necessary, but it must be seen to be believed!
Before we go out and socialise with our friends, many of us like to preen and groom ourselves making sure we look suitable before we leave the house. Well, many non-human primates wait until they are socialising and then they groom. But not by themselves; they get their friends and family to do it for them! Tamarins will sit together one filing through the fur of another with their claws, picking out any foreign objects that may tarnish their beautiful appearance! Lemurs will huddle together licking and licking, grooming the others fur with their dental comb until they are fluffy and spotless with a hairstyle to die for!
Let’s say you’ve just found out you’ve won the lotto and need to share your wonderful news. What do you do? Pick up the phone of course! Well if a chimp finds an amazing tree full of yummy fruit or if a marmoset spies a predator nearby, they don’t have the option of a telephone and need to find another effective way to communicate their message to where it needs to go. For example, the Howler Monkey has a specialised vocal apparatus that allows it to project its enormous “roars” and “howls” up to a kilometre through the forest. No phones needed here!
As our cousins have proven to us, technology isn’t always necessary to survive in the world today!