Variation in Primate Social Units and ther Patterns of Dispersal

This paper seeks to provide insight in the variation in primate social units and the patterns of dispersal from these social units, provides comparative evidence of the differences and similarities between the primate and human skull and dietary composition.

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The choice of these topics for the purpose of this discussion was informed by the need to provide insight into the striking similarities between primate and human anatomy, diet and social composition. In this paper, several questions have been considered during the development of an argument such as; what are the various forms of social units in non-human primates? What is the composition of these groups? How are these groups formed? What are the patterns of dispersal involved in these social units? What are the kinship ties and mating rituals involved in the formation of social units and how do kinship ties influence patterns of dispersal. On the second topic, this paper will seek to answer the following questions; what are the anatomic similarities between humans and primates? What do some of these differences and similarities signify? On the third topic, this paper will seek to clarify the evolution of the human diet and how does this evolution makes it different from the primate diet.

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Animals typically form social groups to be able to minimize the cost of feeding competition and to provide the strength in numbers that will provide protection from predators. Social units among primates vary in terms of composition, patterns of dispersal and the primary bonds that can be found within the groups. In terms of composition, variation exist with solitary groups consisting of a solitary mother and her offspring, pair living groups consisting with one male and one female and their young offspring, polyandry groups that consist of one female with two or more males, polygyny groups that consist of several females and one dominant male that exhibit sexual dimorphism, polygynandry groups that consist of multiple females and multiple males that exhibit a promiscuous pattern of mating. The kinship ties within a social unit influence the patterns of dispersal exhibited by the members of the group with female bonded groups exhibiting a male pattern of dispersal where males leave the natal social group and the female remains philopatric. In male bonded social units, the females disperse while the male remains philopatric. Alternatively, there could be a bisexual pattern of dispersal where both females and males disperse from the natal group and migrate to other groups (Welker, 2014).

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Upon examination of existing literature on human and primate anatomy the following similarities were found between human and primate skulls; Presence of the same number of teeth, presence of the same pattern of arrangement of teeth, similar anatomic positioning of bones. The literature also showed the following differences between the human skull and the primate skull; variation in size with the human skull being bigger than the primate skull due to the presence of larger brain capacity, humans have smaller teeth, smaller jaw, the primate mandible protrudes while the human skull remains flattened, humans have a flat nasal bone, as well as a reduced mastoid process. Primates have no suture lines on their skulls with the foramen magnum on the bottom while primates’ foramen magnum is centrally located. Humans have a smooth skull and defined cheekbones while primates have a bony crest on their occipital bone (Diogo et al, 2015).

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Anthropoids take most of their nutrition from leaves and fruits. These plant sources of food have a high concentration of hexoses, hemicellulose, cellulose, vitamin C, minerals, proteins and essential oils. The average primate takes in higher amounts of micronutrients than the average human. Primates generally consume; leaves, fruit, plant seeds, nectar and small amounts of invertebrate human matter. Although chimpanzees may fish for termites, dip for ants and hunt vertebrates, these animal sources of food only constitute less than 10% of their annual dietary constitution (Wrangham, 1991). This kind of Paleolithic diet was part of the human diet up until ten thousand years ago when the advent of agriculture shifted the nutrition of humans from relying solely on a diet composed of fruits, vegetables, seafood and lean meat to a composition that incorporated a starchy diet from grains and legumes, dairy products and vegetable oils. This kind of neothilic diet was high in fibre, vegetable protein and plant sterols. However, with the advent of the industrial revolution and a need for convenience, led to the introduction of a high amount of processed food, canned meat and soups, high glycemic index carbohydrates, animal products, hydrogenated saturated fat and foods generally high in cholesterol (Stephanie et al, 2009). This kind of diet may have contributed to the increase in the incidence of chronic diseases, lifestyle diseases with morbidity from cardiovascular diseases being a major public health concern for many western nations.

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The information used for the purpose of this discussion was gathered from multiple web sources including; Welker (2014), Stephanie et al (2009), Wrangham (1991). These sources contributed to my knowledge by providing a factual and on research-based perspective on anthropology that conclusively provided insight into the questions that this paper sought to answer. The most interesting facts that were encountered while gathering the information for this paper was the striking similarity between the primate and humans and the opportunity for learning that these distant relatives present to the common diet in terms of diet improvement. Taking lessons from primates can reduce the incidence of chronic diseases and provide micronutrients that cannot be provided by our typical cholesterol filled fast food.

To conclude, my research into these topics provided a fresh perspective on the anthropological characteristics of primates as well as how these species are not so different from humans; anatomically and physiologically. This kind of knowledge will facilitate a greater appreciation for the subject matter in the information contained in the prescribed textbooks, a deeper understanding of it and the capacity to identify interesting facts within them

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