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ANTH 240: Introduction to Biological Anthropology (Professor Schwartz) (Fall 2022)

Anthropology 240: Research Assignment

Paper #1: Primate of your choice


For this paper assignment, you will choose one nonhuman primate and conduct an in-depth study of that species.  There are far too many nonhuman primates (at least 250, with various traits and behaviors) to examine them all during our course. Therefore, your detailed study of a specific species will contribute to understanding the vast diversity.  While your synthesis will only focus on a species of your choice, the information learned will be applied later in the semester when we begin to compare nonhuman primates and the origins of humans.

In the analysis of your nonhuman primate, you must discuss/include:

  1. A picture or drawing of your species
  2. Taxonomic organization (including scientific name; genus, species through suborder classification)
  3. Phenotypic traits (e.g., dental, visual, morphology, sexual dimorphism)
  4. Diet
  5. Form of locomotion
  6. Habitat (environment and region of the world; estimated population size)
  7. Behavioral characteristics (e.g., activity patterns, social groups/structure, mating practices, etc.)
  8. And any other information, such as:
    1. evolutionary history (hypothesized origin) or when it was first documented
    2. whether it is endangered and what is threatening/impacting its health and preservation
    3. how any of the above (#’s 2-7) may be informative about our early human ancestors.
    4. Any other misconceptions or unique aspects (such as references in pop-culture, use in scientific/medical research, or kept as pets, etc.)

Research Sources: For your paper, you will need to find and cite at least 3 scholarly, peer-reviewed sources.  Our library session will review acceptable kinds of sources. Our textbook does not count as a source. A handout is posted on Canvas with information about parenthetical citation and bibliography expectations and styles.

Paper length and format: 4-5 pages, double-spaced, with page numbers, 10- or 12-point typeface and margins of ca. 1 inch on all edges. Only the text itself figures in the page count. And a References Cited/Bibliography page at the end with all cited sources.


For full assignment guidelines, please consult Cougar Courses.

Hints & Tips for preparing your Paper:

  • Choose a specific species – not just a lemur or spider monkey.  A specific species means the genus and species name.  See below for examples to choose from, but there are more primates than this list!
  • While this assignment is largely descriptive, avoid Googling for specific information.  Be sure to use scholarly sources, as these are the most accurate, trusted, and useful. 
  • Structure your paper by using headings and subheadings.  These usually help with organizing your paper and keeping track of each required section of the assignment.
  • Additionally, be sure there is balance in your paper.  Some information might be brief, for example that your chosen species is mostly nocturnal and solitary. However, you can elaborate on this by discussing how common or distinctive this is relating to other close relatives of your species.
  • Look beyond the basics.  For example, the behavioral traits of your chosen primate may be unique or understudied and not well known.  Be sure to investigate why this could be – is it related to small populations due to decreased habitat and being critically endangered? Or something else such as living close to urban areas and prolonged engagement with and/or becoming dependent upon humans?
  • It would be a good idea to include a short statement on why you chose your primate (perhaps in the beginning) and briefly describe what you learned at the end of your paper.  Reflect upon how your research and the primate have enhanced your understanding about primatology and, perhaps, humans.
  • Read all the instructions carefully and ask questions about anything that is confusing.
  • Proofread, proofread, PROOFREAD!  You paper should use formal language, be polished, avoid contractions and abbreviations, and use grammatically correct and complete sentence structure.

List of Primates (Just a *brief* selection, but there are far more – you are not limited to species listed here!)

Sumatran orangutan

Blue monkey

Golden lion tamarins

Guatemalan howler monkey

Javan slow loris

Peruvian spider monkey

Hamadryas baboon

Cottontop tamarin

Proboscis monkey

Bornean orangutan

Eastern gorilla

Sykes’ monkey

Bornean tarsier

Ring-tailed lemur

Brown greater galago

Verreaux’s sifaka

Southern muriqui

Cross River gorilla


Johnston’s mangabey

Geoffroy’s spider monkey


Roloway guenon

Greater bamboo lemur

Southern pig-tailed macaque

Red-eared guenon

Western gorilla

Silky sifaka

Eastern black-crested gibbon

Prince Bernhard’s titi

Tonkin snub-nosed monkey

Preuss’s monkey

Rondo dwarf galago

Pygmy marmoset

Sportive lemur

De Brazza monkey

Vervet monkey

Olive baboon

Gray langur


Furry-eared dwarf lemur

Red slender loris

Dusty bushbaby

Pygmy tarsier

Buffy-headed marmoset

Shock-headed capuchin

Monk saki

Andean saddle-back tamarin

Coiba Island howler monkey

Allen’s swamp monkey

Brumback’s night monkey

Coppery titi

Crab-eating macaque

Dryas monkey

Miss Waldron’s red colobus


Central American squirrel monkey

Peruvian yellow-tailed woolly monkey

Black-and-white colobus monkey

Colombian white-faced capuchin