Portal:Primates

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A primate is a member of the biological order Primates, the group that contains lemurs, the aye-aye, lorisids, galagos, tarsiers, monkeys, and apes, with the last category including great apes. With the exception of humans, who inhabit every continent on Earth, most primates live in tropical or subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia. Primates range in size from the 30-gram (1 oz) pygmy mouse lemur to the 200-kilogram (440 lb) mountain gorilla. According to fossil evidence, the primitive ancestors of primates may have existed in the late Cretaceous period around 65  mya (million years ago), and the oldest known primate is the Late Paleocene Plesiadapis, c. 55–58 mya. Molecular clock studies suggest that the primate branch may be even older, originating in the mid-Cretaceous period around 85 mya.

Primates exhibit a wide range of characteristics. Some primates do not live primarily in trees, but all species possess adaptations for climbing trees. Locomotion techniques used include leaping from tree to tree, walking on two or four limbs, knuckle-walking, and swinging between branches of trees (known as brachiation). Primates are characterized by their large brains relative to other mammals. These features are most significant in monkeys and apes, and noticeably less so in lorises and lemurs. Many species are sexually dimorphic, which means males and females have different physical traits, including body mass, canine tooth size, and coloration.

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Lemurs are strepsirrhine primates, all species of which are endemic to Madagascar. They include the smallest primate in the world, Madame Berthe's mouse lemur, which weighs 30 grams (1.1 oz), and range up to the size of the indri, which can weigh as much as 9.5 kilograms (21 lb). However, recently extinct species grew much larger. As of 2008, 5 families, 15 genera, and 99 species and subspecies of lemur are formally recognized. Of the 99 species and subspecies, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified 8 as Critically Endangered, 18 as Endangered, 14 as Vulnerable, 5 as Near Threatened, 8 as Least Concern, 43 as Data Deficient, and 3 have yet to be evaluated. From 2000 through 2008, 39 new species were described and 9 other taxa resurrected.

The number of lemur species is likely to continue growing in the coming years, as field studies, cytogenetic and molecular genetic research continues. There is not complete agreement over the latest revisions to lemur taxonomy, and the debates are likely to continue. In many cases, classifications will ultimately depend upon which species concept is used. In the case of the lemurs of Madagascar, which have suffered extensively from deforestation and habitat fragmentation, nearly 25% of all species are either Endangered or Critically Endangered, most have yet to be extensively studied, and nearly all populations are in decline. For these reasons, taxonomists and conservationists favor splitting them into separate species to develop an effective strategy for the conservation of the full range of lemur diversity. Implicitly, this means that full species status will help grant genetically distinct populations added environmental protection.

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The brown spider monkey, Ateles hybridus, is a species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from South America. It is found in Colombia and Venezuela. Like all spider monkeys, it has very long, spindly limbs and a lengthy prehensile tail which can almost be called a fifth limb. The tail is made up of highly flexible, hairless tips with skin grooves which improves grip on tree branches and is adapted to its strictly arboreal lifestyle. It is currently critically endangered, with few examples of them remaining in the wild.

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Extinct ( IUCN 3.1)| Extinct

Nycticebus linglom is a fossil primate from the Miocene of Thailand. Known only from a single tooth, an upper third molar, it is thought to be related to the living slow lorises ( genus Nycticebus), but the material is not sufficient to assign the species to Nycticebus with certainty, and the species name therefore uses open nomenclature. With a width of 1.82 mm, this tooth is very small for a primate. It is triangular in shape, supported by a single root, and shows three main cusps, in addition to various crests. The absence of a fourth cusp, the hypocone, distinguishes it from various other prosimian primates.

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