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ANTHROPOLOGY 1: Introduction to Physical Anthropology
Primate Observation Project (50 points)
One of the ways that Physical Anthropologists approach the understanding of ancient and
modern human social and cultural behavior is through the study of our closest living relatives:
The Primates. In this assignment, you will become a Primatologist. Your assignment is to
observe at least two different Primate species at a zoo and compare their behaviors to each
other and then discuss how this might help us to understand human behavior. *If you cannot go
to a zoo to observe the Primates, you may choose to do an alternative written research
paper, upon approval by the instructor.
You will be required to observe two different primate species.
You will record each primate for one hour.
I would recommend choosing two very different species for your observations.
I also strongly recommend contacting the zoo ahead of time and finding out when they
feed the primates and/or when the primates tend to be most active –this will decrease your
chances of sitting in front of a primate enclosure watching your subjects sleep for an hour!
BRING THIS PAPER AND A NOTEBOOK WITH YOU TO THE ZOO
Part I: The Observation — Field notes and field-charts (20 points)
Visit a zoo and systematically record and describe the behavior of two different primate
You should keep detailed fieldnotes for this part of the assignment.
Observe each primate species for at least one hour and describe what the animals do along
with the exact time each behavior occurs.
If there is more than one individual in the enclosure, you should choose one animal and
specifically track that individual’s behavior.
In order to systematize your data collection, set up 2 separate observation charts that you
You will have a chart for each primate observed.
Each chart needs to have more than 25 observations.
It can be a rough chart that looks like the one below…
SAMPLE Observation Chart
Name/ID # Observation Observed Behavioral (B) or Physical (P) Trait Why is it being selected for?
What is the Natural Selection process?
Pooped in its hand and threw it at an
annoying kid making noises at it B : Feces throwing Driving others away, territory
A scream so loud it sounded like a
lion, howls like its name, probably
why its called that
P: Voice box makes very loud
sounds. Those that communicat
– 1 A loud scream B: Loud vocalization when hears other noises. Maybe a dominance thing or territoriality. females and males both do it?
Etc (More than 25 observations in
You will be required to turn in your field notes and chart with your final paper, so be sure to take
careful notes during your observations and keep them afterwards!!! Be creative with your
observations – if you want to take pictures or draw maps, diagrams, etc., these may also be
handed in with your final paper.
Things are happening fast, so there will be no way to observe and note everything. However if
you note 30 or so elements, then you will have a good data set to use for the paper. Make a
note of all behaviors you observe, including the individual’s range of movement within the
enclosure, the nature of any interactions with other individuals, reactions to any external
stimuli like loud noises or the antics of other zoo visitors, food procurement behavior, etc. In
particular, you should watch for actions related to the following categories of behavior: food
acquisition and sharing practices, mating strategies (i.e. monogamy, polygamy, etc.), social
organization (i.e. large vs. small groups) and intelligence.
Then in your notes write about the effects of captivity.
Then make a chart. You will have a chart for each primate observed.
What is the behavior that you see that captivity creates? Or changes from the wild?
Note 5 things that captivity does to each of the animals. See example below.
SAMPLE Captivity Chart
Name/ID # Observation Why is it taking place?
Gorilla – Silverback –
Sat in one place the entire hour, never moved,
stared into space
Captivity has creat
affecting his behavior.
Etc (At least 5 observations in total!)
Part II: The Formal Chart (30 points)
1. You are required to prepare formal charts using a computer program such as Excel or Word.
Set up the Observation Chart exactly as you see above. Do this first before you write the
rest of the paper. Each of the example categories should be present in your formal
Observation Chart. Each animal should have more than 25 observations listed.
1. Set up the Captivity Chart exactly as you see above. You should have a separate Captivity
Chart for each primate. This is the most important section of the paper. The most
important column is the last column, where you state WHY you think behaviors are taking
place in terms of natural selection.
The Final Report Using Chart Data (50 points) – 3 pages maximum
After making your observations at the zoo, read back through your notes and chart: do any
behavioral patterns emerge? You do this by stepping back from the notes you have taken to
assess the data as an anthropologists would. Did some behaviors occur over and over? What
behaviors seem to be most common and what sort of functions are they associated with (i.e.
food acquisition, competition for mates, alliance building, etc.)? You have 2 animals with
many behavioral and physical characteristics noted. What you need to do now is look for
patterns in the data. What leaps out as significant to you in terms of comparing these two
THE POINT OF THE PAPER IS TO USE THE DATA FROM THE CHART – NOT OTHER DATA
THAT YOU TOOK NOTE OF FROM THE ZOO OR ONLINE OR IN A BOOK.
Section 1: Introduction and Primate Descriptions (10 points)
For Section 1 of the body of your paper, describe very clearly what this paper will be doing,
state the nature of your research, and finally, summarize what the research results were. In
the next short paragraph write up brief descriptions of the primates you observed at the zoo,
based on your fieldnotes. Be sure to describe any interesting behaviors observed and your
general impressions of the primates. This section should also include the specific location of
your primate observations (Zoo name and location), the date and time of your observations,
the common name of the Primates you observed (i.e. chimpanzee, lemur, etc.), and the
scientific name of the species (Genus & species name). Use your own observations to describe
the primates. DO NOT USE ONLINE SOURCE DESCRIPTIONS HERE.
Section 2: Primate Comparison (10 points)
Compare and contrast the behaviors of the two primates you observed. How do the behaviors
of the primates differ from one another? How are they similar? In terms of evolution and
natural selection, why might these differences and similarities exist? For each behavior or
physical trait – you MUST interpret WHY they are the same or different. Keep referring to your
chart. In particular, try to address different categories of behavior outlined above: food
acquisition and sharing, mating strategies, social organization, intelligence. Try to determine if
they share or don’t share ANCESTRAL TRAITS and if they do or don’t WHY.
Section 3: The Effects of Captivity (10 points)
For Section 4 of the body of your paper, reflect on the Captivity Chart that you made. What
are the effects that being in captivity and on display in a zoo might have on the behaviors of
the primates you observed. How “natural” do you think the behaviors you observed
are? Would the primates act differently if observed in the wild? If so, can you explain why?
Section 4: Insights into Human Behavior (10 points)
Finally, for Section 5 of the body of your paper, consider what kind of insights the primate
behaviors you observed might give us into human behavior, either ancient or modern. Can you
identify similar patterns of behavior in humans? If so, do you think that these patterns may
come about for similar reasons as in the Primates, or for different reasons? What, ultimately,
can studying Primates really tell us about humans, based especially on your work as a
Primatologist? Explain WHY in terms of your DATA they seem to be similar or different from
each other and from Homo sapiens. Be thinking the whole time about TRAITS and
DATA. Could each species share traits with humans and not with each other?
Section 5: Quick Conclusion (10 points)
Wrap it up – summarize everything from the other sections. Lastly, avoid being WISHY
WASHY, no professor wants to read how you were ‘transformed by this experience’ or that it
was ‘really interesting’. These statements do not make it a science paper.
Paper Format and Structure
Your field notes from the zoo should be handed in as-is. These notes should be attached to
your final paper as appendices (at the end However, you do need to make a nice chart of all the
observations (see Part II). ). Your final paper should be written in formal academic style, with a
clear introduction stating the thesis and purpose of the paper, a body broken down into the four
sections outlined above in Part II, and a strong conclusion summarizing your thesis and the results
of your observations. If you have not written a formal paper before or have questions about
formatting, grammar, etc., I encourage you to submit a rough draft of your paper to me at
least one week in advance of the due date so that I can review it and return it to you with
comments and suggestions. YOU WILL BE GRADED ON YOUR SPELLING, GRAMMAR AND
PAPER ORGANIZATION. PAPERS SUBMITTED WITHOUT AN INTRODUCTION OR
CONCLUSION WILL AUTOMATICALLY LOSE 5 POINTS. LATE PAPERS WILL BE
DEDUCTED 10 POINTS PER WEEK LATE.
**To receive full credit for this project, you must include a ticket stub from the zoo you
visited and the original copies of your field notes** This assignment is worth 100 points
towards your final class grade.
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This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomePart I: The Observation
view longer description
|This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomePart II: Formal Chart||Full Marks
|This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomePart III: The final Report||Full Marks
|This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeSection 2: Primate Comparison||Full Marks
|This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeSection 3: The Effects of Captivity||Full Marks
|This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeSection 4; Insights Into Human Behaivor||Full Marks
|Total Points: 100.0|