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Humans are part of the primate family. Other common primates include the monkey, baboon, orangutan, chimpanzee and gorilla. While humans inhabit much of the world, most other primates live in tropical or subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Primates have several distinctive features that separate them from other mammals. Primates have well developed hands and feet, with fingers and toes. Their opposable thumb makes it easy for them to grab things.

Primate eyes are forward in the head giving them stereoscopic vision. This allows them to judge distance.


Primates also have large, highly developed brains. Their intelligence allows them to control and manipulate their environment.

The highly developed visual center of the brain helps primates distinguish colors.

Their large brain also allows them to develop complex language and communication skills.

Monkeys and apes walk on all four limbs, but they may run upright using only their hind legs.


Although primates are born fully formed, they tend to have a long gestation period in their mother's womb.

Parents also care for and educate their young much longer than other animals. This results in a strong bond between a baby and the mother.

Primates are very social animals, and tend to form strong bonds with family and friends.


While humans are similar to monkeys in many ways, there are also several significant differences. The human brain is more than twice the size of other primates. This makes humans the most intelligent primate, with the most developed communication, language and reasoning skills.

Humans are able to make and use complex tools to help control their environment.

Humans also walk upright on two legs.

Although primates are born fully formed, they tend to have a long gestation period in their mother's womb.

You may also be interested in our Animal and Mammal video collection. You can also go directly to the video pages for the baboon, chimpanzee, gorilla, monkey, orangutan and lemur.

Web Sites about Primates:

The ChimpanZoo, sponsored by the Jane Goodall Institute

African Primates at Home, photos and sounds of monkeys and gorillas studied in East Africa by Dr. M. K. Holder

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