DER Documentary

The Primate Series

Primate Series

by Anne Zeller
color, 7hrs 09mins, 1997-2008

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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Most of these videos are quite different from commercial films about animals. There is no plot and single animals are not the focus of attention. Instead, the purpose is to give a comparative view of a number of different primate species living under various conditions in captivity and in the wild. The longer films compare some closely related animals, such as subspecies of the same specie, different species living in similar habitats, and animals of different families, such as monkeys and apes. This is done in order to let the observer see similarities caused by a common size, or close genetic relationship and compare these to more distantly related forms who may be larger, smaller, more or less social and living in similar or different habitats. Having the opportunity to actually see animals moving in their natural habitats brings home the importance of specialization's in locomotor systems, such as the long legs of vertical clinging and leaping primates, the long arms of brachiators and the strong dexterous hands of arboreal quadrupeds.

Watching the animals interact with each other emphasizes the subtlety of facial communication, and the importance of kinesthetic movement. Does one animal respond to another's approach with retreat, with defensiveness, with unconcern, with a groom invitation or a turned back? When food access is being contested is the outcome based on individual relationships or on membership in a particular social class such as infant, female or dominant animal. Is food sharing common and peaceful, or involuntary and due to strategy and theft. In the video focusing on captive primates, do the animals seem more or less stressed than in the wild? Comparing the material presented on similar species in captive and wild circumstances (such as the gorillas) can help to answer these and many more questions. There is a lot of information in the narrative, but the way that the videos were shot and edited also provides long uninterrupted sequences of behavior which can be used to study interactions, use of space, facial communication and role behaviors. Some of this is referred to in the narration, and some is left for the viewers to interpret.

Films in the series:
Chimpanzees Today
Five Species
Images From The Field: Baboons
Introduction to the Primates
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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