Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas




Academic unit

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas





Weekly hours


Teaching language



The goal of this course is to present to the students the variability within the Order Primates, in and evolutionary perspective. The course contents are structured according to the taxonomy. In order to ilustrate the variability of natural history within the Order, specific species examples will be given. Specific thematics will be approached: anatomy, geographic distribution, adaptation, morphology, and behaviour. When possible some examples within the following topics will be given: reproduction and development, comunication, manipulation, tool use, and learning.



Subject matter

Introduction to Primatology: Importance of primate studies; What is a primate; Taxonomy of living primates; Geographical distribution and habitat.
Primate Ecology: Diet, food distribution and patterns of distribution; Foraging and predation.
Primate mating systems: reproductive strategies; sociability; costs and benefits of living in a group; social organization; sexual selection.
Life histories: reproduction; R and K strategies.
Juvenile primates and play.
Primate cognition and intelligence: models for the evolution of intelligence; social and ecological knowledge; \"Theory of Mind\"; tools and social tools; learning and cultural transmission.
Primate Evolution: Omomyids and Adapids; the first anthropoids; the emergence of the Hominoids; Hominoid radiation.


Boyd, R. & Silk, J. B., 2003. How humans evolved. 3rd Ed. London, W.W. Norton.
Conroy, G. C., 1990. Primate evolution. London, W. W. Norton.
Caldecott, J. & Miles L. (eds.), 2005. World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation. Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.
Goodall. J.. 1986. The Chimpanzees of Gombe Pattems of Behavior. Combridge, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Kormos, R. & Boesch, C. (eds), 2003. West African chimpanzees: status survey and conservation action plan. Cambridge, Switzerland IUCN Gland.
Matsuzawa, T. (ed.), 2001.Primate origins of human cognition and behaviour. Tokyo, Springer-Verlag.
McGrew, W. C., Marchant. L F. & Nishida. T. (eds.), 1998. Great Ape Societies. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Rowe, N., 1999. The pictorial guide to the living primates. New York, Pogonias Press.
Smuts, B., 1987. Primate Societies. Chicago. Chicago University Press.

Teaching method

The course will include phases:
a) lectures that, nevertheless, allow discussion of a few topics with the students.
b) some classes will work as seminar (discussion of themes based on scientific articles) or will be centered on the presentation of essays/themes by the students.

Evaluation method

The evaluation will be based on a written paper (essay) based on bibliographical research on a topic from the syllabus of the course. The evaluation will be carried out according to the following criteria:
1) written paper with oral presentation;
2) Participation in discussions during classes.