Glossary of Terms
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aberrant movement- Self-directed, stereotyped, compulsive movement such as rocking or pacing.

adaptation- A genetic, morphological?, or behavioral change that increases a species odds of survival in its environment.

alarm call- A loud vocalization that an individual emits upon detecting danger, such as the sighting of a predator or another conspecific group.

alloparenting- Assuming care and protection for an infant even though he/she is not biological offspring.

Anthropoidea- The suborder of primates that includes monkeys and apes, synonymous with higher primates or simians. Classification system separate of the one to which "Haplorrhini?" belongs. More details.

ape- Of the superfamily Hominoidea, characterized by their lack of tail, large body size, relatively larger brain size, increased visual acuity, and typical locomotion below branches (as opposed to balancing above them as do most primates). Apes are comprised of the lesser apes, gibbons, and the great apes, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans. More details.

appease- Submissive, calming gestures directed toward a dominant individual after the dominant individual has been aggressive or in an attempt to prevent aggression.

arboreal- A species that is adapted to living in trees.

arousal- Excited, stimulated state often indicated by hair erection and compressed lips.


baculum- A slender bone found in many mammals that reinforces the penis.

beg- Beseechment for a desirable object such as food or a toy.

bipedal- Adapted to locomotion using only two feet.

bob- Up and down movement of the body as the elbows are successively fully flexed and extended, producing an appearance of bowing or extreme submission.

brachiation- Form of locomotion in which the arms are swung from one branch to another.


canines- The pointy teeth located behind the incisors.

canopy- The top level of the forest that receives the most sun.

carnivore- An animal whose diet consists primarily of the flesh of other animals.

Catarrhini- The infraorder in the Anthropoidea suborder that is composed of Old World monkeys and apes and is characterized by narrow nostrils that face downwards. More details.

cheek pouch- A pocket in the mouth which is used to temporarily store food; found in Old World monkeys except colobines.

class- A broad taxonomic classification of plants and animals which encompasses orders. The Primate order belongs to the Mammalia class.

consort- When a male and estrous? female travel together away from the rest of their group to increase the male's chances of paternity.

conspecific- Of the same species.

crepuscular- Active primarily at dusk and dawn.


dental formula- Formula which indicates the number and kinds of teeth found in half the mouth (since dental patterns are symmetrical and therefore identical on both sides). The formula is ordered by incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. The formula for the upper part of the mouth appears on the top of the formula and the bottom part of the mouth below. Fo example, the dental formula for Loroidea superfamily:

dermatoglyphic- Skin patterns found on the hands and feet and on the tails of prehensile? animals.

display- A flagrant behavior used to convey a message to conspecifics. Displays are often used in the place physical fighting to resolve conflicts.

diurnal- Active primarily during the day.

dominant- Higher ranking in a social hierarchy. Dominant individuals have priority access to resources such as food, mates and resting places.


ecological niche- A place in the environment in which a species has taken advantage of resources in order to survive.

ecology- The branch of biology that studies the relations of living organisms and their environment.

estrus- Period of time around ovulation when females are receptive to mating.

exudates- Gums, resins, and saps from trees. A component of the diet of many smaller primates.


faunivore- An animal whose diet consists primarily of other animals.

fission-fusion- Social structure in which a troop breaks up into smaller groups to forage and re-groups when food is sufficiently abundant in one place.

flight- Rapid progression away from another individual as if it is perceived as alarming or dangerous, typically accompanied by loud screaming.

folivore- An animal whose diet consists primarily of leaves.

forage- Active search for food that usually involves the hands or mouth to retrieve pieces of food.

foramen magnum- Opening in the skull through which the medula oblongata (part of the spinal cord) passes.

frugivore- An animal whose diet consists primarily of fruit.


genus- A taxonomic classification of plants and animals based on similar characteristics; the major subdivision of family that encompasses species.

gestation- The period of time between conception and birth in which an organism develops.

graminivore- An animal whose diet consists primarily of seeds and grains.

grooming- The act of two individuals cleaning each other's fur; both a practical and social interaction. More details.

greet- An exchange of signals two individuals may deliver upon meeting each other after a length of time.


hair pluck- One individual vigorously pulls hair from its own or another individual's body.

Haplorrhini- The infraorder of the Primate order that is composed of tarsiers and the higher primates. Classification system separate of the one to which "Anthropoidea" belongs.

head tip- A threatening gesture, one individual faces another and jerks its head very slightly backwards while the chin is raised.

hierarchy- A social group that is arranged in order of rank, defined by interactions among individuals.

Hominoidea- The superfamily of the Catarrhini? infraorder which is comprised of the great apes. They are characterized by large body size and relatively large brain size and sexual dimorphism?. More details.

hunch- Raising of shoulders to make the individual appear larger and more threatening.


incisores- The cutting teeth located in the front of the mouth between the canines.

insectivore- Mammals whose diet consists primarily of insects.

instantaneous sampling- Method of behavioral observation in which only the behaviors occurring at a specific time interval are recorded. This can be likened to taking a Polaroid at the end of each time interval and recording only the behaviors that can be seen in the picture. Method of data collection used in ChimpanZoo.

intergroup- Between or among various groups.

intragroup- Within a group.

invertebrate- Animal which does not have a backbone or spinal column.

ischial callosities- Thick pads of skin attached to the ischial bones upon which Old World monkeys sit.


juvenile- Individual whose age is between infancy and sexual maturity.


knuckle walking- Form of locomotion in which the weight of the upper body is upheld by the knuckles; found in gorillas and chimpanzees.

kiss- Lips are pressed against the body, face, or limbs of another individual. The mouth may be open or closed. Chimpanzees often kiss during greeting? and during appeasement?.


lip smacking- A noise made by many primates when approaching another individual to indicate friendliness.

lowland forest- Forest that is located below an altitude of 1 kilometer.


mammae- A milk secreting organ found in all mammals.

marsupial- Mammals that lack a placenta; females have an external pouch where their offspring develop.

matrifocal- Social structure in which females are the center of the social group and males are peripheral.

matrilineal- Descent or kinship through the mother.

monkey- Of the superfamily Ceboidea or Cercopithecoidea, characterized by a prehensile tail (with the exception of the Barbary macaque), smaller body size, and diurnal habits.

monogamy- Social structure in which a male-female pair mate only with each other.

morphology- The form and structure of plants and animals.

mya- Abbreviation for million years ago.


natural selection- Evolutionary process in which traits that increase the chances of survival and reproduction are passed on to offspring more often than less beneficial traits. Over time this leads to a shift in the genetic make-up of populations.

nocturnal- Active primarily at night.

nucleus- Round sac of protoplasm present in most plant and animal cells and necessary for functions such as growth and reproduction.

nurse- The act of a mother allowing her infant access to her breast to suckle.


omnivore- An animal whose diet consists of both animal and vegetable matter.

opposable thumb or toe- Capable of being placed opposite against the fingers or toes so that fingertips are touching.

order- A taxonomic classification of plants and animals; the major subdivision of class that encompasses families. The Primate order belongs to the Mammalia class.

ovulation- The release of an egg (or eggs) from an ovary, a female reproductive organ.


pelage- The hair or fur of a mammal.

pheromones- Chemicals emitted by individuals which communicate information to conspecifics?.

phylum- A broad division of living organisms for classification based on similar characteristics.

Platyrrhini- Infraorder of Anthropoidea which is composed of the New World monkeys and is characterized by rounded nostrils which face towards their ears. More details.

play- Two or more individuals engaging in recreation in a non-aggressive manner.

prehensile- Adapted to wrap around and grasp. In primates, often refers to tails.

polyandry- Social structure characterized by one female of a social group mating with more than one male in the group during the mating season.

polygyny- Social structure characterized by one male of a social group mating with more than one female in the group during the mating season.

power grip- Grasping and manipulating an object with one hand.

precision grip- Grasping and manipulating an object between the thumb and forefinger. Only humans and chimpanzees have this capability.

present- In a sexual context, a female turns her back to a male and crouches close to the ground by flexing her arms and legs. In a social context, a subordinate individual turns its rump directly toward a high-ranking individual, one of the most common submissive? patterns.

primitive- In terms of evolution, a characteristic that is old in the evolutionary history of the organism.

promiscuous- Mating with multiple partners during the mating season.

Prosimii- The suborder of primates that includes lorises, bush babies, lemurs, and tarsiers, synonymous with lower primates or prosimians. Classification system separate of the one to which "Strepsirrhini?" belongs.


quadrumanous- Adapted to use both hands and feet for grasping.

quadrupedal- Locomotion using four limbs.


rain forest- Forest in the topics or subtropics that receives abundant rainfall year-round.

rhinarium- A moist area around the nose that heightens the sense of smell; found in prosimians.


sagittal crest- Ridge on the top of the skull running from front to back; found in male gorillas.

savanna- A open plain grasslands in a tropical area of seasonal rains.

seed disperser- An animal who ingests seeds but does not digest them so that the seeds can still grow after being deposited by the animal.

sexual dichromatism- Variation in the color patterns of the pelage? between genders of the same species.

sexual dimorphism- Superficial variations, such as size, color or weight, between genders of the same species.

sexual reproduction- Method of producing offspring in which two individuals contribute genetic material to form a new organism.

simian- Possessing characteristics like that of an ape.

solicit- Tempting or enticing other individuals to join in some social behaviors through body contact and body postures.

solitary- Spending the majority of one's time alone.

stereoscopic vision- Forward facing eyes that converge the 2 images from the eyes resulting in depth perception.

Strepsirrhini- The suborder of primates that includes lorises, bush babies, and lemurs, but not tarsiers. Classification system separate of the one to which "Prosimii" belongs.

submissive- Behavior that indicates that an individual is surrendering, yielding. Generally, submissive behavior is directed at an individual of higher ranking and not vice versa.

subordinate- Lower ranking in the social hierarchy.

suspensory behavior- Locomotion or hanging below the branches of trees.

swagger- Rhythmic swaying from one foot to the other with the body in an upright posture, used in courtship.


tapetum lucidem- Layer found in the eyes of many nocturnal animals, such as cats and prosimians, that reflects light to improve night vision.

taxonomy- The science of classifying organisms into hierarchical categories based on shared characteristics.

temper tantrum- Act in which an individual screams loudly and leaps about the area. The individual may fling his/her arms above the head and slap or beat the ground or enclosure surfaces or structures with his/her hands.

terrestrial- Adapted for living on land.

territory- Area of land that an individual or a social group defends from stranger conspecifics?.

threat- Aggressive gestures that usually elicit submissive? behavior from the individual towards whom the gestures are directed.

tooth comb- Lower incisors that are adapted for self-grooming; found in prosimians.

tropical- A hot, sultry region located between the topic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north latitude) and the tropic of Capricorn (23.5 degrees south latitude).


understory- The lowest stratum of the forest, between the ground and 10 meters.


vertebrate- Animal which has a backbone or spinal column.

vertical clinging and leaping- Form of locomotion in which an individual starts by clinging vertically to the trunk of a tree and springs to the trunk of another.


woodland- Scattered patches of woodland and grassland.




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