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A to Z of primates

The Hanuman langur, or grey langur, is named after the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman. To Hindus it is a sacred animal. It eats...Read More >>The Hanuman langur, or grey langur, is named after the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman. To Hindus it is a sacred animal. It eats leaves, flowers, fruit, roots and fungi. It often raids farmers’ fields for food and will feed on human rubbish and handouts in cities of the Indian subcontinent. Lemurs, apes and monkeys, along with humans, belong to the group of mammals known as primates. Most primates are good tree-climbers. They have forward-facing eyes and large brains. Most monkeys live in trees, although some come down to feed or travel, and some, like baboons, live on the ground all the time. All apes have long arms, no tails and can walk upright on two legs for a while. Chimpanzees, orang-utans and gorillas are the great apes. They make “nests” to sleep in at night. They have strong fingers for grasping or carrying out precise tasks. They are the closest relatives to humans. They are able to use tools, solve problems and learn quickly.


Bonobo mother and infant

Chimpanzee

The chimpanzees and its close relative the bonobo are humans’ closest relatives. Chimps live in African rainforests and woodlands. They spend most of their time on the ground, but sleep in the trees at night. They eat fruits, nuts and insects. Sometimes they prey on other animals, such as monkeys and deer. Chimps live together in groups and defend their territory against other groups. Grooming one another helps to strengthen bonds between the chimps. Highly intelligent, they use sticks and stones as tools.

Orang-utans can learn a simple sign language to communicate with humans.

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