Comparative Perspectives in Primate Biology - SE582

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5)




Stage 2 or 3 (See individual Programme rubric)



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:

Contact hours



BSc Anthropology
BSc Biological Anthropology
BSc Biology
BSc Wildlife Conservation

Method of assessment

Exam 50%; Coursework 50%
Practical Assessment (50%)

Indicative reading

Stanford et al "Biological Anthropology", 2006
Mayr "What Evolution Is", 2001
Napier & Napier "The Natural History of the Primates", 1985
Campbell et al. (2010) Primates in Perspective
Whitehead et al. (2005) A photographic Atlas for Physical Anthropology
Fleagle (1998) Primate Adaptation and Evolution
Dolhinow & Fuentes (1999) The Nonhuman Primates
Journals: American Journal of Primatology; International Journal of Primatology; Primates; American Journal of Physical Anthropology; Journal of Human Evolution.

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.

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