Monkey Business, Know Your Primates

There are striking similarities in regards to our primate relative, but it is important to know that not all primates are equal and even the same. There are several different types of primates and each has their own nuisances and traits that make them unique. There are three main types of primates, the apes, monkeys, and prosimians, but these can then be broken down even further into delineations called Old World and New World.

The overarching delineation of Old World and New World refers to important physiological as well as geographic traits. The term Old World refers to primates that have their nostrils close together and in the front and these species tend to originate from Africa and Asia. New World on the other hand refers to primates that have their nostrils widely separated and to the sides with origins primarily in North, Central, and South America. New World monkeys are rather unique in regards to physiology since they require vitamin D3; however, they cannot convert vitamin D2 to D3 unlike Old World monkeys which do fine with vitamin D2.

Now that we know a bit more about the denliniations the first classification of primate is apes which are considered Old World Primates. Apes differ from monkey as they lack a tail and they tend to have arms that are longer than their legs. This makes them excellent climbers and prime examples of apes are orangutans, chimpanzees, and gorillas. This classification of primate is most similar to us and as a result they also suffer from some of the same health problems that we do as well. If these animals are fed high carbohydrate diets that are prone to obesity and Type II diabetes. That is why in captivity zoological institutes face a unique set of challenges in ensuring that these animals do not face these health problems. There are also a variety of Old World monkeys called the Cercopithecidae which are monkeys that have a tail, but it is not prehensile, or can be used as an extra appendage. This includes the macaques and baboons,.

The next classification of primate is the New World monkeys which can have several different species each with their own nuances. One of the more interesting species are the called Callitrichidae, aka the small primates, such as marmosets and tamarins. These animals tend to be sensitive to gluten which can result in wasting muscle-disease. Another species of New World primates are the Cebidae which are the Capuchin-like monkeys that can use their tail as another limb. This group includes howlers, spider monkeys, capuchins, and squirrel monkeys and these animals are fed high browse fiber biscuits.

The final group of primates covered and the most unique are the Promisians which are classified under the Old World of primates. These primates tend to have more primitive characteristics and intentiallionally utilize chemicals or pheromones to communicate. They also tend to be nocturnal as seen in the lemur and aye-aye. The nutritional challenges of these animal varies as they have different energy requirements, but unique to the lemur is the fact that they cannot be fed citrus. Lemurs cannot be fed citrus as it facilitates the absorption and utilization of iron.

When feeding primates in a zoo there are several challenges that are faced. First important to add Vitamin C to any primates diet, since like us they can suffer from scurvy. Also, the majority of primate diets are made up from monkey biscuits which comprises 75% of the dry matter intake in their diet since they are not high in energy and do not require added supplementation.

Primates are incredible animals and it is unique for us to see traits and our likeness in them. This was a quick look into some of the species and classifications while finding out some of the unique nuisances of our simion relatives.