Primate Characteristics

Some people speak of primates as the "highest" mammalian order. However, as Figure 43-16 shows, many primate characteristics are generalized rather than specialized and are similar to features possessed by ancestral mammals. Primate limbs, for example, are most similar to the limbs of the earliest mammals.

Many primate traits are adaptations for living in groups in trees. Examples include strong three-dimensional vision and prehensile appendages, or hands, feet, and tails that can grasp. The primate brain, with its large cerebrum, is able to interpret complex visual information and keep track of subtle shifts in social organization.

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