A primate is essentially a mammal of order primates that contains simians and prosimians. Primates rose from the ancestors that survived in trees of tropical forest. It is important to note that many characteristics of the primates represent the adaptations to life in the tropical forest three dimensional environments. Most species of primate remain at least partially arboreal. For that reason, this paper centers on the characteristics, which define order of primates, specifically contrasting and comparing Homo Sapiens or humans and chimpanzees or Pan troglodytes. These characteristics include locomotion, brain size, tool used, as well as facial expressions and language.
In terms of locomotion, both chimpanzees and humans walk bipedally, meaning that they walk upright on two legs. Chimpanzees often do this so as to see further ahead. However, they prefer to walk on all fours, which is not the case in humans. Human beings actually walk upright since the embryonic stage and have essentially evolved bowl-shaped pelvises that help in supporting the internal body parts while doing so (Strickberger 75). The leaning forward by Pan troglodytes when moving, do not require to support their body organs with their pelvis hence this is the reason why they their hips are broader. In fact, this is what makes childbirth or delivery much easier for them than for the humans, whose pelvises are in opposition to large birth canal. The other difference is that chimpanzee feet have big and opposable toes that they use to crawl and climb whereas, human feet are essentially straight with their toes at front to aid push directly forward when walking.
The other imperative characteristic that defines order of primates is the brain size. Both Homo Sapiens and Pan troglodytes are thinking primates. Humans’ brain size volume is 1350ml on average. In contrast, the brain volume of a chimpanzee is 370ml on average. It is important to note that brain size alone is not a complete indicator of the intelligence. For instance, there have been some Nobel Prize winners whose brains range from below 900ml up to above 2000ml. The better way of determining the intelligence is the organization and structure of a number of brain parts. For example, human brains have high surface area since they are much more crumpled than the brains of the chimpanzees, with a larger number of networks between its numerous parts (Paterson 98). These, together with a comparatively greater frontal lobe, let us much more of luxury of logical and abstract thought.
Tools used become the other crucial characteristic that defines order of primates. For a number of years, human beings were actually considered to be only animals using tools. Nonetheless, the 1960 observation of use of sharpened twigs by chimpanzees to fish for termites has from that time changed this. Both chimpanzees and humans have the capability of modifying their environments to forge the tools to help with the day to day challenges. The chimpanzees will use stones as anvils and hammers, mash leaves into pulp to use like makeshift sponges, and make spears. As a result of walking upright, it is in fact thought that our front limbs were considerably freer to use tools; we have refined the use of tool to an art. We constantly live surrounded by products of this ability.
Last but not least, facial expressions and language is another characteristic that defines order of primates. Chimpanzees have complex communications and greetings that depend on social statuses of communicating chimps. These primates communicate verbally using various grunts, hoots, pants, screams, and other vocalizations. They communicate mostly through facial expressions and gestures. A number of their facial expressions for instance, grinning, surprise, comforting, and pleading, among others are identical to those of homo sapiens. Nevertheless, Homo Sapiens smile through bearing their teeth that is for Pan troglodytes and other animals as a sign of danger or aggression (Coolidge and Wynn 2009). A much greater portion of the Homo Sapiens communication is basically done by vocalizations. Homo Sapiens have vocal cords that are complex, and this allow us possess an unlimited sounds. Additionally, humans have extremely muscular lips and tongues. This is the reason why we have pointy chins while Pan troglodytes have receding chins.
Among the above four characteristics I think locomotion characteristic is the most important in defining the order. This is because this characteristic extensively shows both similarities and differences between Pan troglodytes and Homo Sapiens.
Coolidge, F. L., & Wynn, T. G. (2009). The rise of homo sapiens: The evolution of modern thinking. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Paterson, S. (2008). Primates. New York: Weigl Pub.
Strickberger, M. W. (2000). Evolution. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett.