DER Documentary

Introduction to the Primates

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From the Primates series
by Anne Zeller
color, 49 min, 2006

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An Introduction To The Primates, covers 41 species of primates ranging from the 300 gram sized pygmy slow loris to the 200 kilogram sized gorilla. At least ten of these are extremely endangered species, including the Zanzibar red colobus, (filmed in Zanzibar) and the potto, aye-aye, and Drill, all of which occur in less than half a dozen sites in captivity. The tarsier is represented although unfortunately no video is available. The animals are organized by taxonomic category, although formal terms are not used. Instead, they are grouped by their shared features, in an effort to provide visual manifestations of such features as the tapetum (the reflective layer in the eye of nocturnal prosimians), sexual dimorphism, grooming claws, and dental combs.

Most of the animals are recorded in their social groups and some, such as the Indri and Sifaka, in their natural habitats in Madagascar. Members of the lemurs and lorises, the tarsier, the five major types of the expanded New World Monkey taxonomy, and both Cercopithecines and Colobines are covered as well as two lesser and four great ape species. This rapid coverage of a range of species in under 50 minutes provides an excellent introduction to the order, covering both morphology and behaviour.

The video can also be broken down into units and used as the foundation for discussion of a variety of groups. The video moves rapidly from species to species, but repetition of the characteristics allows the information to be retained, with an appreciation of the variety of ways in which features can be manifested. Locomotor patterns, sexual dimorphism, diet, food processing, adult-infant interactions, male care, and tool use are all covered in appropriate contexts, as well as the social organization of each species, and discussion of its specialized features.

This video is intended as a comparative introduction for the Primate Series of films which covers most of the major taxonomic categories of primates in more detail.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Society for Visual Anthropology/AAA Conference, Washington DC, 2007

Other films in the series:
Chimpanzees Today
Five Species
Images From The Field: Baboons
Lemurs of Madagascar
New World Monkeys
Primate / Human Interaction
Primate Patterns II
Sifakas of Madagascar
What Do Primatologists Do?

Related Resources
Study Guide

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