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"Prime-Time Primates" Guide & Resources

Welcome to "Prime-Time Primates," a special episode of Scientific American Frontiers all about primates -- from chimpanzees, capuchins, orangutans and rhesus monkeys to a primate that looks more like a gargoyle, the aye-aye of Madagascar.

Here are the topics and running times of stories on this show and a brief description of related activities you'll find in this online teaching guide:

  • Keeping the Peace (running time: 14:34) -- Scientists at the Yerkes Primate Center challenge assumptions about primate behavior in crowded conditions. Activities: What happens when animals run out of space?; Cooperative strategies for sharing resources.

  • Chimp Manners (running time: 6:40) -- Chimpanzee mothers in captivity get lessons in parenting skills from humans.. Activities: Nature or nurture?; You decide: Looking for clues and cues to animal behavior.

  • Monkey See, Monkey Do? (running time: 7:09) -- Some nonhuman primates use tools, but how they learn to use them may be a clue to their intelligence. Activity: Advantages of stereoscopic vision and the opposable thumb in primates.

  • Chimps Count (running time: 8:35) -- For the first time, chimps learn to do simple arithmetic problems. Activities: Modeling animal training; measuring cranial capacity.

  • Finger Food (running time: 5:26) -- An endangered lemur in Madagascar has a unique adaptation for capturing its prey. Activities: Find out more about lemurs; Who's who among primates: a research assignment.

  • The Mating Game (running time: 10:22) -- For rhesus monkeys in the wild, dominance doesn't always mean success in the mating game. Activity: Become a primate watcher: an activity for the zoo.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.