Diet and primate evolution

More than 25 species were taxonomically described in the decade of the s and eleven have been described since Despite their skill in capturing live prey particularly monkeysthese apes actually obtain an estimated 94 percent of their annual diet from plants, primarily ripe fruits.

Subsequently, they must breathe air that is more oxygenated. Another monkey species often found living in the same forests as Cebus apella is the spider monkey, Ateles paniscus. Most primates also have opposable thumbs.

The old easy-living dogma was clearly far too simplistic. But my fieldwork showed that the foundation of the howler diet in the Barro Colorado forest was immature leaves, whereas the foundation of the spider monkey diet was ripe fruits.


Primates Solve Dietary Problems with Their Heads The answer is simple—primates tend to specialize on only the highest quality plant foods—foods that offer the most nutrition in exchange for the time and energy invested in finding and eating them. The flesh of larger mammals including primates is not listed as an important item of nonhuman primate diet, with the sole exception of chimpanzees—it is taken by baboons in special circumstances that are not yet fully understood.

Most primate species remain at least partly arboreal. It would seem that, initially, the earliest human ancestors were somehow able to include a modest amount of animal food in the diet on a routine basis along with their usual plant foods.

Furthermore, the highest-quality items in the forest tend to be the most scarce. If I was correct that the pressure to obtain relatively difficult-to-find, high-quality plant foods encourages the development of mental complexity which is paid for by greater foraging efficiencyI would expect to find similar differences in brain size in other primates.

It is hypothesized that an unusually large brain was favored in primate evolution in part to aid in remembering the types and locations of higher quality plant foods as well as when such foods were ready to be harvested.

The next epoch, the Pleistocene lasting from about two million to 10, years agowas marked by repeated glaciations of the Northern Hemisphere. I examined information on the brain sizes of howler and spider monkeys because the spider monkeys in Panama seemed smarter than the howlers--almost human.

There was no polar ice. Various excellent studies, including a fiber project at Cornell University, had already provided much information about fiber digestion by humans. However, forests of broad-leafed trees were developing over much of the earth. These protections include a vast array of chemicals known as secondary compounds such as phenolics, alkaloids and terpenoids.

At one time, it was believed that the human digestive tract did not possess microbes capable of degrading fiber.

Many smaller monkeys take as much as 65 percent of the diet from concentrated plant foods such as gums and ripe fruits.

More recently, taxonomists have preferred to split primates into the suborder Strepsirrhini, or wet-nosed primates, consisting of non-tarsier prosimians, and the suborder Haplorhini, or dry-nosed primates, consisting of tarsiers and the simians.

Diet and Primate Evolution

The evolution of these herbivorous mammals provided the opportunity for the evolution of the carnivorous mammals specialized to eat them.Primate - Diet: The diet of primates is a factor of their ecology that, during their evolution, has clearly played an important role in their dispersion and adaptive radiation as well as in the development of the teeth, jaws, and digestive system.

As diet is considered to be a major a driver behind the evolution of primates, influencing morphology, physiology and ecology (Milton ; Aiello & Wheeler ), the forces shaping primate. Diet and Primate Evolution In the article “Diet and Primate evolution” by Katherine Milton, it addresses the change in which the diet of primates evolves throughout millions of years and how it helps them, as a whole species, evolve and develop various characteristics, thus creating species variation.

Most nonhuman primates have a mixed diet that consists of a wide spectrum of plant foods and a relatively small spectrum of animal foods. Patterns of food selection shift in relation to seasonal changes in food availability.

Diet and Primate Evolution - College of Natural Resources. Common threats to primate species include deforestation, forest fragmentation, monkey drives (resulting from primate crop raiding), and primate hunting for use in medicines, as pets, and for food.

Large-scale tropical forest clearing is widely regarded as the process that most threatens primates.

Diet and primate evolution
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