Primates (Prosimians, Monkeys, Apes and Humans) and Families | Skulls Unlimited International, Inc. 1-800-659-SKULL

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Prosimians, Monkeys, Apes and Humans

The mammalian order Primates contains over 230 species and includes the prosimians, monkeys and apes. All primates are omnivorous, although many who live in rain forests eat vegetation almost exclusively. Primate eyes face forward which allows for binocular vision. Most primates are arboreal and to some degree have an opposable thumb; some monkeys also have prehensile tails which are used for grasping. Primates vary greatly in size from the mouse lemur that weighs as little as 2 ounces, to the gorilla which weighs more than 400 pounds.

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FAMILIES in the Class Primates

Aotidae ( Owl Monkeys )

Aotidae (Owl Monkeys)
The family aotidae consists of 12 monkey species, commonly known as night monkeys or owl monkeys. Aotids are widely distributed throughout the forests of Central and South America.

Atelidae ( Howler Monkeys, Woolly Monkeys & Spider Monkeys )

Atelidae (Howler Monkeys, Woolly Monkeys & Spider Monkeys)
The family Atelidae, formerly included in the family Cebidae, consists of all 23 species of howler, spider and woolly monkeys. Native to forested regions of Mexico, Central and South America, these medium to large-sized monkeys. Atelids are arboreal, diurnal omnivores.

Callitrichidae ( Marmosets & Tamarins )

Callitrichidae (Marmosets & Tamarins)
The family Callitrichidae is a new world group of small squirrel-sized monkeys that includes over 40 species of marmosets, tamarins and lion tamarins. All callitrichides are arboreal inhabiting the forested regions of Central and South America.

Cebidae ( Capuchins & Squirrel Monkeys )

Cebidae (Capuchins & Squirrel Monkeys)
The family cebidae is one of the five families of New World monkeys. This family includes 14 species of capuchins and squirrel monkeys. These species are found throughout tropical and subtropical Central and South America. Cebids are arboreal primates spending much of their lives high in the rainforest tree tops. Members of this family are gregarious, living in groups of between five and forty individuals. All cebids are omnivorous, eating fruit and insects, although the proportions of these foods can vary greatly between species.

Cercopithecidae ( Old World Monkeys & Baboons )

Cercopithecidae (Old World Monkeys & Baboons)
The family Cercopithecidae is a family of Old World primates. Native to Asia and Africa, this family includes many of the most familiar monkey species such as baboons and macaques. Cercopithecines are medium to large in size with the smallest being the talapoin and the largest being the mandrill Members of this family range from arboreal, tree-dwelling forms to terrestrial, ground dwelling baboons.

Cheirogaleidae ( Mouse Lemurs )

Cheirogaleidae (Mouse Lemurs)
Cheirogaleidae is the family of primates that contains all dwarf and mouse lemurs. Like all other lemurs, cheirogaleids live exclusively on the island of Madagascar. Cheirogaleids are omnivorous feeding on fruits, flowers, leaves insects, spiders and small vertebrates.

Daubentoniidae ( Aye Ayes )

Daubentoniidae (Aye Ayes)
The family Daubentoniidae includes only one living member, the Aye-aye. This lemur is native only to Madagascar. The aye-aye use their rodent-like incisors to tap into a tree to find grubs. Then, it uses its long, thin middle finger to pull the grubs out. In addition to grubs, aye-ayes commonly eat nuts, fruits, nectar, seeds, and fungi, classifying them as an omnivore.

Galagonidae ( Bushbabies )

Galagonidae (Bushbabies)
The family Galagonidae includes all bushbabies, also called galagos. These small primates are native to forested regions of Africa. Adaptations that help these arboreal, nocturnal primates include large eyes for better night vision, acute hearing and long tails for balance. In addition, galagos possess strong hind limbs giving them the ability to jump up to two meters vertically. Galagos are omnivorous, feeding on a mixture of insects, small vertebrates, fruit, and tree gums.

Hominidae ( Gorillas, Chimps,Orangutans & Humans )

Hominidae (Gorillas, Chimps,Orangutans & Humans)
The family Hominidae includes seven species including two species of gorillas, two species of orangutans, the chimpanzee, the bonobo, and humans. Also known as the “great apes”, hominids are large, tailless primates. Typically, hominids are diurnal omnivores that live in family groups. Historically, taxonomists considered humans as the only living member of the family Hominidae, with all other apes lumped into the family Pongidae. However, with recent advancement in DNA research, taxonomists now place all great apes in Honinidae with two subfamilies; Homininae and Ponginae.

Hylobatidae ( Siamangs & Gibbons )

Hylobatidae (Siamangs & Gibbons)
The family Hylobatidae includes 13 species of gibbons and the siamang. Considered “lesser apes” hylobatids are medium sized, tailless primates native to tropical and subtropical rainforests of Asia. Gibbons are arboreal with their main mode of transportation being brachiation. Brachiating consists of swinging from branch to branch at speeds as high as 35 mph. They can also make leaps of up to 27 ft. making gibbons the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling mammals.

Indriidae ( Sifakas & Idris )

Indriidae (Sifakas & Idris)
There are 19 lemur species belonging to the family Indriidae, including nine species of woolly lemurs, nine species of sifakas and the indri. These medium to large sized primates are found exclusively on the island of Madagascar. All indrids are strict herbivores eating mostly leaves, fruits and flowers. Despite being arboreal, indrids do descend to the ground occasionally. When on the ground, they stand upright and move in a series of short hops. In the trees, however, they can make extraordinary leaps and are extremely agile.

Lemuridae ( Lemurs )

Lemuridae (Lemurs)
Lemuridae is a family of 22 medium-sized prosimians commonly known as lemurs. Native to the island of Madagascar, these arboreal primates are highly agile, and can make great leaps between trees. Lemurids are herbivores and will eat fruit, leaves, and, in some cases, nectar. Lemurids are gregarious animals, living in social groups of up to thirty individuals.

Lorisidae ( Pottos & Lorises )

Lorisidae (Pottos & Lorises)
Lorisidae is a family of nine primate species that includes all the lorises and pottos. Lorids live in tropical, central Africa as well as in south and southeast Asia. Lorids are diurnal, arboreal and most lorids are solitary or live in small family groups. These omnivores feed primarily on insects, but they also consume bird eggs and small vertebrates as well as fruits and sap.

Pitheciidae ( Uakaris )

Pitheciidae (Uakaris)
The family Pitheciidae consists of 43 species of New World primates including the titi, saki and uakari monkeys. Most pithecids are native to the Amazon region of South America. These small to medium-sized monkeys are typically diurnal and predominantly herbivorous feeding on fruits and seeds. Like most primates, pithecids are primarily arboreal.

Tarsiidae ( Tarsiers )

Tarsiidae (Tarsiers)
The family Tarsiidae is comprised of eight tarsier species of small arboreal primates. Native to southeast Asia, tarsiers are nocturnal insectivores. The eyes of the tarsier are huge, allowing for better night vision. They catch prey by jumping and pouncing. In addition to insects, they are also known to prey on small vertebrates, such as birds, snakes, lizards, and bats. The name tarsier comes from their elongated tarsus foot bone.