Anthropology 130 Research Simulation 4

Studying Primate Traits and Behavior 
 50 points maximum


Instructions The best way to learn about primates is to see them in action. In this assignment, you

will be playing the role of primatologist: observing primate behavior and documenting

your experience. The result will be a table of your observations and two paragraphs

describing what you have seen that connects to what we learned about primates from

the textbook and lecture.

Assignment Start

Months after turning in your report about Tibetan high altitude adaptations, you receive

an email from your instructor: “I have some bad news: the funding fell through on the

Tibet project so we won’t be going there. I hope you kept your receipts from the

camping store.”

Disappointed, you keep reading: “Don’t be disappointed! A colleague is studying primate

behavior and she needs students to help. As you know, modern primates exhibit a huge

range of behaviors. This range is rooted in the many traits that primates possess. By

observing primate behavior in a natural or natural-ish environment, we can add to our

knowledge of what they are capable of and compare different groups. The work is pretty

flexible because you can do this online or in person. Read on for details…”

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Part One Choose a primate live stream or prerecorded video from the following list. This

assignment works best with a live stream since the footage of the primate is not edited

to just the highlights. This simulates what a researcher would see watching the animal

in the wild or at a zoo. Live streams are subject to random factors affecting accessibility,

so video clips are acceptable as well. You can also do this assignment at the San Diego

Zoo, Safari Park, or other place with primates to observe. Take a photo to show that you

were there!

Zoo Live Stream Options • San Diego Zoo Ape Cam (My favorite):


• San Diego Zoo Baboon Cam (Also my favorite): baboon-cam

• Houston Zoo Gorilla Habitat Cam (You have limited control of the cameras!): http://

• Houston Zoo Chimpanzee Window Cam (You have limited control of the cameras!):

• Edinburgh Zoo Squirrel Monkey Cam (Scotland!): webcams/squirrel-monkey-cam/?camID=2588/

• Japanese Snow Monkeys: Highland Wildlife Park (also Scotland): http://

Prerecorded Video Options Youtube has a few options for long videos of primates. For the longer videos, feel free to start observation somewhere in the middle of the video for variety:


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• 15 Minute Animal Behavior Sampling Video (Brown capuchin monkey): https://

• 360 Video Lemur (Immersive 360 VR experience for compatible devices!): https://

• APE CAM HD (San Diego Zoo gorillas):

• Bonobo Day 2 Fort Worth (loud):

• Gelada Monkey Observation Video (San Diego Zoo): A

• Gorilla Observation Video (San Diego Zoo):

• Orangutan Observation Video (San Diego Zoo):

• Ring-Tailed Lemur Observation Video (San Diego Safari Park): 2M1BmfHlOEI

Sanctuaries & Other:

• Life of monkeys (long-tailed macaques):

• Observation of Wild Monkeys in Thailand, Phuket: Documentary (Northern pig-tailed macaque):

• People watching lots of tourists in summer in London – August 2013: https://

Part Two 1. Download and open the report sheet for this assignment. Print the report sheet for

use at the zoos, or take notes on paper.

2. Watch one of the live streams or videos for at least ten minutes, preferably longer.

Some students watch for over an hour and enjoy the experience! It may take a few

tries to find a stream that is working and showing a primate at the moment you are

watching. Another option is to go the Zoo or Safari Park and observe any primate

there. Otherwise, find a prerecorded video for this assignment.

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3. In the report sheet, make notes in the table about what the primate is doing and

when it is doing this action. Use the example table as a model. Be extremely

detailed to make the written report part easier. Instead of just ‘moving’ or ‘climbing,’

how is the primate doing this action? Which limb are they using to hold an object?

4. Think about the primate’s abilities and behavior relative to what you learned in class.

Which typical primate traits did the observed animal use in your time watching it?

5. In the report sheet, write a short report (at least 700 words) with the following


1. Introduction: what primate(s) did you observe? Was it a live stream, in person, or

pre-recorded? What did you expect to see? End this section with a short

summary of what you actually saw, yes spoiling the paper.

2. Body Paragraph 1: Tell the reader in more detail what you saw. Start with a

description of the scene and the individual primates you saw. Then describe the

actions you saw in order from beginning to end like it’s a story with a lot of detail.

3. Body Paragraph 2: Tell the reader in detail what primate traits you observed.

Mention at least three traits from the lecture or textbook. These can be physical

or behavioral traits.

4. Conclusion: Summarize your paper for the reader. Briefly restate what primate(s)

you observed, what you expected to see, and what you actually saw.

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You can observe as a group, but the table and research report must be your own

writing. Reports are run through a plagiarism detector before grading. Use college-level

spelling, grammar, and organization for the paragraphs. Submit the report sheet via


The break-down of points is as follows:

Preparatory Work:

• Detailed table with observations on what the primate did as you watched it (10 points)

Short Report:

• Introduction: Contains all information asked for in instructions (5 points)

• Body Paragraph 1: Cleaned up description of what the primate did as you watched it (10 points)

• Body Paragraph 2: Accurately relate at least three witnessed primate traits or behaviors (10 points)

• Conclusion: Contains all information asked for in instructions (5 points)

• Writing: At least 700 words and free from spelling and grammatical problems (10 points)

Conclusion Anthropology is different from other sciences in that observations are collected not from

controlled experiments, but from fieldwork (or as close as you can get with a captive

primate). Observations such as yours contribute to what we know about primates today,

which also allow us to make hypotheses about what past primates were like. If you want

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to get more points doing this type of activity, see the Chimp&see extra credit


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  • Anthropology 130 Research Simulation 4
    • Instructions
    • Assignment Start
    • Part One
    • Zoo Live Stream Options
    • Prerecorded Video Options
    • Part Two
    • Conclusion

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