Who are called primates?« Back to Questions List

Primates are the group of mammals that includes monkeys and apes. Apes include gibbons, orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas and they do not have tails. On most of the species, the arms are longer than their legs. Though most monkeys and apes feed mainly on nuts, fruits, and other plant materials, many also eat insects, eggs and small lizards. The African chimpanzees are known to be a meat eater. They spend most of their time playing, resting and foraging. Foraging refers to their action of looking for food resources. Different species have different foraging behavior depending on the environment they live in.


Certain primates spend most of their time each day removing flakes of skin, insects or other dirt remains from another’s coats. This behavior is called ‘grooming’. Grooming helps reinforce friendly relations and is also used to make the dominant ones or the aggressive ones less hostile. Chimpanzees and baboons associate themselves in large groups by grooming. Female gorillas are known to groom the dominant male ones.
Primates learn from the mother until they are weaned. Mothers supply them with food, warmth, security and carry the young ones. Young ones are born with strong grip but still they have to learn from their mothers to climb and to know what could be eaten and what not. Monkeys are weaned at a younger age than the apes and so have a shorter time to learn.

Different species of primates live at different heights. While leaf eating ones prefer only tree tops, there are red-tailed monkeys which prefer spending the day on the forest floor. Weight also plays a role in determining which species climb the trees or which do not.

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