Primate Behavior The animal that most resembles us is the ape. At the zoo, it is easy to observe behavioral and facial expressions in monkeys and apes that are very much similar to our own. A group of apes could very well seem like a family. A mother taking care of her young may seem familiar to the human onlooker. This is because the ape is our closest living relative. In the documentary Primate Behavior, anthropologists observe the behavior of monkeys and primates. The primates are mostly observed in the wild, as they are better understood while placed in a natural setting.
This is where the ocial structure of the primate can really be interpreted. Mainly, this documentary uses the primate’s behavior as a comparison to our own. The purpose of this is to better understand not only the evolution of the human body, but also the evolution of human behavior. The film explains that our behavior was affected by the environmental pressures of our past. Because primates share a common ancestor with us, observing them in the wild can help us better understand why and how we evolved certain traits. The film stresses how important it is that we must observe apes in a natural setting.
The narrator explains, “If we are interested in evolution of human behavior, and in the evolution of behavior in general, you really need to see that in a natural setting where evolution pressures are at work today and where you might be able to imagine the kind of evolutionary pressure that wouldVe worked in the past. ” The intention of this film is to instruct the viewer on the evolutionary connection between the ape and us. Understand primate behavior can lead to clues of our own evolutionary descent. The author wants us to agree that we have “more in common with our primate cousins than we do with any other animal”.
He can only do this by showing us a lot of visuals that dynamically compare us two. We are shown many species of both monkeys and apes, and even that of a few prosimians. The source of data the anthropologist uses is fieldwork. Videos of apes observed in the wild provide us with insight of our own evolutionary descent. One of the species that the author introduces us to is the zanzibar red colobus monkey. This monkey has developed a complex behavioral system that can be observed in a daily basis within the group. The film explains, “Primates have a rich social repertoire to practice during evelopment.
These behaviors establish and maintain bonds among individuals, allowing individuals to coexist by participating and manipulating the effects of their behaviors on others. Dominance hierarchies express the relative status among individuals in a group. ” The zanzibar red colobus monkey is shown interacting with the other members of a group in a way that substantiates this perspective. We are shown monkeys fighting with one another over a female, engaging a mating ritual, taking care of its young, and even grooming one another other.
The various clips of onkeys in the wild are likely the most powerful source of data that the author uses. Besides this, he also interviews several experts on the topic. In this way, he also provides the viewer with a factual and educative narrative to go along with his fieldwork. was once thought that the use of tools was unique to humans. However, tool use has now been documented in apes as well. The author describes how the greatest example of tool use in apes is that of the brown capuchin. This New World primate from South America uses hammers and anvils.
They also use stone digging tools, and ven crude stone blades. Chimps have been observed using a stone hammer and anvil to crack open bill pong nuts in West Africa. The use of tools is imperative in order to understand ape culture. An anthropologist interviewed in the documentary asserts, “If we want to understand the evolution of human culture, it is very difficult to do that when we only have one species to look at… By having a comparison, seeing somewhat kinds of things going on in different species, then we can start talking about things ‘like do you really need to be smart to have culture? Observing the ulture of apes, and how apes of the same species adapt to their particular environments, may give us insight as to how our ancestors may have adapted to the environmental pressures of the past. In conclusion, the narrator sums up the film by reminding us that we have more in common with the ape than we do with any other animal that is currently extant. We share as many behavioral traits in common with other animals as we share anatomical and molecular ones. So, by observing the behavior of the ape, it is possible to see a reflection of own heritage in a way. The film explains how Dr.
Jane Goodall has done excellent work involving the chimpanzee. It is now much more legitimate to view an individual chimp as having a history, and a personality. Chimps have their own culture. The film gives us the example of the white-faced capuchins, a medium-sized new world monkey that is very innovative in the domain of social conventions. An example is how “some monkeys have invented this tradition of sticking their fingers up their front nostrils and they will do tis mutually and it will last for several minutes and they tend to sway and look a bit ecstatic and in a trans ike and they do it. This unique social relationship between members of this species highlights how we are not the only animals capable of having a form of culture. In retrospect, the greatest strength of this documentary was its extensive use of fieldwork. The viewer was continuously shown clips of different apes and monkeys foraging in the wild. Without these clips, it would have been impossible to truly grasp the information that the narrator was trying to impart on his viewer. The information by itself was very instructive and precise, but it was the accompanying visuals that eally left an impression.
A good example is the short clip on the Hamadyas baboons. These Old World monkeys are natives to the Horn of Africa and to the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The documentary was then explaining why apes have certain social and reproductive tendencies. The Hamadyas baboon groups are mostly male, and these males have females recruited into their group when they are quite young. Male groups will have then have a few younger, follower males who keep a respectable distance while still belonging to the group.
These follower males exist so hat they are ready to take over the group if the current leader falters. Although the narration provided good details, watching these baboons interact accordingly gave the viewer a much better understanding on why these social conventions exist within the group. of human interaction. I feel that although the film is centered on primate behavior, because it’s purpose is to support the idea that observing primates give us clues as to our evolutionary descent, human behavior should have been observed simultaneously.
For example, the documentary has a segment of sexual selection and ow certain reproductive tendencies arose in male and female primates. The anthropologist explains how sexual dimorphism, which is basically great physical differences between males and females, can arise in a species. I felt that the author could have gone more into detail as to why the human species doesn’t have sexual dimorphism. He explains that what causes sexual dimorphism, but never really connects it back to human behavior. Perhaps an improvement to the film would have been more clips on human behavior held along side that of the chimpanzee.
Out of the apes, the chimpanzee is he ape most like us. Providing a more adequate comparison would have added more depth to the film. Over all, I liked the film because it was clear on it’s message and gave the viewer many examples. The documentary wanted to show the viewer how observing primate behavior could lead us to a better understanding of our own behavior. Throughout the film we were shown examples on primate reproductive selection and social tendencies. Primates were shown mating, using tools, selecting mates, caring for their young and even communicating vocally.
We were able to view he primate in their natural habitat and discern traits that are similar to that of our own species. Not only are primates like us physically, but also they are similar to us in their behavioral patterns. Primate Behavior was a very factual and compelling account on the evolutionary connection between mankind and it’s closest living relative. Overall, I enjoyed the film and would recommend it to a friend interested in human evolution. The film is precise in its factual narrative and provides the viewer with a series of engaging video clips on of primates in the wild.