What Does It Mean To Be A Primate?

Finally! Equal time for primates. After years of listening to people talk about what it means to be human, someone finally gets to the root of the problem and asks “What does it mean to be a primate?” In fact, bunches of people are going to try and answer the question.

On Saturday, November 1st at the California Academy of Sciences, the Leakey Foundation will sponsor a seminar on the above topic. The fee is $200 per attendee, but there seems to be some plans to webcast the seminar. Ira Flatow will moderate Some of the people sceduled to talk are:

Dr. Jane Goodall
Dr. Toshisada Nishida
Dr. Adrienne Zihlman
Dr. Alexander Harcourt
Dr. Anne Pusey
Dr. Anthony (Tony) Nsubuga
Dr. Brenda Bradley
Dr. Carel van Schaik
Dr. David Watts
Dr. Diane Doran-Sheehy
Dr. Dorothy Cheney
Dr. John Mitani
Dr. Juichi Yamagiwa
Dr. Joan Silk
Dr. Kristen Hawkes
Dr. Lynne Isbell
Dr. Martha Robbins
Dr. Richard Wrangham
Dr. Robert Seyfarth

During the course of which Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. Toshisada Nishida will be awarded the Leakey Prize. Sounds fascinating and I sincerely hope that they do webcast it for those of us who can’t afford to attend.

6 Responses

  1. It means living in large social groups, following the leader with the best social skills, and accepting the beliefs of the most socially prominent, no matter how crazy they are.

  2. On an exam I recently took, “well-developed clavicles” were considered a diagnostic trait of primates. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  3. “Took,” as in, accepted for full credit?

  4. Social groups with leaders would seem to include wolves and horses, although beliefs are hard to diagnose outside of talkative people. Besides, some primates are decided loners, like most orangutans. Clavicles, while less grand, may actually be more to the point. Though I would guess not, since tarsiers and lemurs don’t seem to have much more developed ones than dogs. And I never did hear the end of the discussion on whether or not the tree shrew was in or out of the group. The last tidbit I read suggested that the nearest relative according to DNA was the flying fox. That, I suppose, still lives the fellow outside the primate group though.

  5. No, the shrew is no longer considered a primate. Which is kind of a bummer.

  6. I thought we were getting away fron that ‘top of the tree of life’ nonsense.
    Of course there is a group of species that includes humans and lemurs but exludes foxes, flying or otherwise.
    The question seems to be about where you draw the line.
    Howabout the opposable thumb?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: