Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Primates
Suborders Anthropoidea and Prosimii*

Primates have a comparatively large brain-case, and a trend away from instinct and towards reliance on social behavior to aid in survival. They also have stereoscopic vision, and because of this they have a post-orbital bar to keep the working of their jaw muscles from interfering with their eye movement. Most have opposable thumbs.

The Prosimians (Prosimii) are on the way out, living in Africa, Asia, India, and primarily in Madagascar. They have been slowly shrinking in number as the Anthropoids take over. About half the prosimians are nocturnal, and therefore lack color vision. They have prehensile tails and opposable thumbs, although their thumbs are not as opposable as the Anthropoidea. Prosimians include the Tarsier, Lemur, loris, and galago.

The Anthropoid (Anthropoidea) primates include the two infraorders, monkeys (Platyrrhini or New World Monkeys) and Apes (Catarrhini or Old World Monkeys/Old World Primates). Most of these are diurnal, and have color vision.

* The suborders are sometimes divided differently--the tarsiiforms (Tarsiers) Behave like prosimians, but they don't have a rhinarium. The Anthropoidea/Prosimii divition puts the Tarsiers in with the prosimimians, because it focuses on behavior. People who wish to focus on physical traits (of which the rhinarium {wet nose} is the most obvious) will often split the order into Haplorhini (no rhinarium), and Strepsirhine (rhinarium {literally 'split nose'}).

** Hominoidea is not always broken up in this way. There are other ways of slicing up the Hominoidea, due to the fact that people weigh different traits differently.
You may often see it as:
Hylobatidae: Gibbons
Pongidae: Orangutans, Gorillas, and Bonobos, Chimpanzees.
Hominidae: Humans

This is apparently and older way of doing it, motivated by the desire to set humans apart from 'lower animals'.

References. Biological Anthropology by Michael Alan Park
Linda Wolfe, Professor of Anthropology at East Carolina University Highly recommended.

Pri"mate (?), n. [OE. primat, F. primat, L. primas, -atis one of the first, chief, fr. primus the first. See Prime, a.]


The chief ecclesiastic in a national church; one who presides over other bishops in a province; an archbishop.

2. Zool.

One of the highest order of mammals. It includes man, together with the apes and monkeys. Cf. Pitheci.


© Webster 1913.

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