The natural advancements made by various species are an essential topic of scientific discussion in multiple fields of study. The development of the order primates, which currently includes a large number of animals, has been thoroughly discussed by numerous researchers interested in animal and human species’ progression. From the first occurrence of true primates about 60 million years before the present, the genome of the order has changed significantly, and novel groups and suborders have come into existence.
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Examining evolution patterns and establishing the primary characteristics of the primates’ lifecycle is imperative both for the understanding of the species and for gaining knowledge regarding the alterations that occurred in the process of development. Furthermore, a crucial benefit of this endeavor is connected to the investigation of human evolution and the traits obtained during this process.
The changes that transpired in the primate order during the period between 80 million years before the present and the current age are broadly explored by numerous researchers. According to the findings, the first stage of primate evolution occurred almost 80 million years ago, with the earliest primate group being Purgatorius. These animals were highly different from their relatives, manifesting the reduction of the snout and a lower number of teeth, the leading characteristics that defined the future primate evolution.
In the forthcoming ages, the group of Euprimates, also referred to as true primates, has further evolved, developing eyes that faced forward, grasping hands and feet. These traits remain the major attributes of the primate family even today, as most representatives of this order display laterally placed eyesockets, as well as hands and feet used for climbing. The development of such characteristics is strongly linked to the habitat qualities of that time, which included the traversal of branched surroundings.
Starting from 25 million years ago, the ancestral tree of primates begins to branch significantly, giving rise to such subgroups as Old World monkeys and Hominoids. The primates that are known today generally refer to these two families, divided by the region of their early development and numerous biological distinctions. For instance, while Old World monkeys have been established to evolve in the areas of Africa, producing such species as macaques, baboons, and Colobus monkeys. Hominoids, on the other hand, have thrived in various locations, later diverging into chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and humans. Some of the subgroups created, however, are now extinct, as they have not survived the process of natural selection.
The life cycle of primates is highly resemblant to that of the other mammals, which remains similar for all the representatives of the species. All primates begin their life as newborns under the protection of a parent, who teaches the young and ensures their adaptation to the environment. The juvenile period of primates is significantly lengthened in comparison with other mammals, which develop much faster in order to adjust to the surrounding conditions.
After that, the representatives of this order enter the stage of maturity, which lasts until the end of their lives and signifies their readiness for the reproduction process. A mature primate dedicates his energy to establishing a family and committing to the growth of their community. Primates are very social animals who form complex social relationships, establish social systems, and protect the members of their groups. At the end of their lifespan, the older animals still participate in the life of other primates, for instance, teaching juveniles necessary social and fighting skills.
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