Comparative Perspectives in Primate Biology - SE582

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 6 15 (7.5) DR N Newton-Fisher checkmark-circle


This module will provide the fundamental theoretical and comparative perspective that lies at heart of biology, with a particular focus on the order Primates. Particular attention will be paid to the evolutionary history of the primates and comparative primate (skeletal) anatomy, both placed in an evolutionary ecological context (e.g. a consideration of dentition in relation to diet and feeding; post-cranial anatomy in relation to locomotion and phylogenetic trends). The module covers latest discoveries and developments in these areas, engaging students with primary literature. Extensive use of casts of primate skeletal material will provide hands-on 'experiential' learning. The module will provide a detailed treatment of natural and sexual selection as key components of evolutionary theory that shape the adaptations of organisms, and the way adaptations are used to make sense of the diversity of organisms with particular reference to the primates.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 32
Private study hours: 118
Total study hours: 150


BSc Anthropology
BSc Biological Anthropology
BSc Biology
BSc Wildlife Conservation

Method of assessment

Practical Assessment, 50 minutes (50%)
Examination, 2 hours (50%).

Indicative reading

Fleagle, JG (2013). Primate adaptation and evolution, 3rd Edition. Academic Press.
Whitehead PF et al. (2004). A photographic atlas for physical anthropology. Morton.
Gebo DL (2014) Primate comparative anatomy. Johns Hopkins.
Campbell et al. (2010). Primate in Perspective, 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

8.1 demonstrate knowledge of the characteristic adaptations, together with the diversity and unifying themes in form and function, of species belonging to the order Primates
8.2 understand how evolutionary theory explains the diversity of animals and their adaptations with particular reference to the order Primates; understand evolution as both history and process.
8.3 collect and critically evaluate morphological data in order to determine relationships between form and function; appreciate the link between morphology and behaviour.
8.4 appreciate the value of a broad comparative approach in understanding diversities and commonalities between organisms and how this understanding in primates provides a foundation for studies of human evolution and adaptation.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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