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Order Primates

Order Primates was established by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, in the tenth edition of his book Systema Naturae, for the genera Homo (humans), Simia (other apes and monkeys), Lemur (prosimians) and Vespertilio (bats). In the first edition of the same book (1735), he had used the name Anthropomorpha for Homo, Simia and Bradypus (sloths). In 1839, Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, following Linnaeus and imitating his nomenclature, established the orders Secundates (including the suborders Chiroptera, Insectivora and Carnivora), Tertiates (or Glires) and Quaternates (including Gravigrada, Pachydermata and Ruminantia), but these new taxa were not accepted.

The Primates order are a part of the clade Eutheria which is nested within the Euarchontoglires clade of the class Mammalia. Recent molecular genetic research on primates, colugos, and treeshrews has shown that the two species of colugos are more closely related to the primates than the treeshrews, even though the treeshrews were at one time considered primates. These three orders make up the Euarchonta clade.

Order Primates


The order Primates traditionally was divided into two main groupings: prosimians and anthropoids (simians). Recently, taxonomists have preferred to split primates into the suborder Strepsirrhini, or wet-nosed primates, consisting of nontarsier prosimians, and the suborder Haplorhini, or dry-nosed primates, consisting of tarsiers and the simians. Simians are divided into two groups: platyrrhine ("flat-nosed") or New World monkeys of South and Central America and catarrhine (narrow-nosed) monkeys and apes of Africa and southeastern Asia. New World monkeys include the capuchin, howler and squirrel monkeys; catarrhines consist of Old World monkeys such as baboons and macaques, gibbons and great apes. Humans are the only extant catarrhines to have spread successfully outside of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia,

Here, we follow Anderson and Jones (1984) in formally dividing living primates into two suborders, the Strepsirhini and the Haplorhini. We differ, however, in that we place humans and their close relatives, the chimpanzee, gorilla, and orang in the family Hominidae.

There are 13 families in the order Primates. Below are the families divided into two suborders.

Suborder Strepsirhini
  • Family Lemuridae - lemurs
  • Family Cheirogaleidae
  • Family Indridae - indris
  • Family Daubentoniidae
  • Family Galagonidae
  • Family Loridae - lorises
  • Family Megaladapidae
Suborder Haplorhini
  • Family Tarsiidae
  • Family Cebidae
  • Family Cercopithecidae
  • Family Callitrichidae
  • Family Hylobatidae-gibbons
  • Family Hominidae - humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans

The Primates are an ancient and diverse eutherian group, with around 233 living species placed in 13 families. Most dwell in tropical forests. The smallest living primate is the pygmy mouse lemur, which weighs around 30 g. The largest is the gorilla, weighing up to around 175 kg.

Over view   |   Primates  |  Order | Apes |  Monkeys    |  Prosimians  |  Most endangered  |

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