Physical Anthropology Primate Term Paper

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Physical Anthropology Primate Term Paper

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 (80  Points Possible)

Your primate research project will consist of four stages: the first stage involves picking a topic which deals with primate evolution, and getting some preliminary background information on the subject from your textbook.  The second part involves going to the library and/or to the Internet to locate at least four professional sources on your subject.  After you have a general understanding of your subject,  you will be putting together information from your text, other professional sources, class presentations, videos, and zoo notes to compile a term paper which will be due two weeks before the end of the semester (see schedule).   The following is a more specific breakdown of the project.

Choosing the term paper topic

Choose one of the following term paper topics. You must pick a subject which can be discussed through the grades of primate evolution (see attachment on last page). Popular topics of term papers include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Evolution of Primate Intelligence

Discuss the changes which occurred in intelligence through primate evolution.  Intelligence is correlated with brain size, gestation period (amount of time the fetus is in the womb), social organization, and mating patterns.  Include two or more of these related areas in your discussion.  Elaborate on the evolutionary modifications and some of the theories which have been proposed for these changes.

  1. The Evolution of Primate Diet and Dentition

Discuss the changes which occurred in diet and dentition through primate evolution. Diet is correlated with dentition (number and type of teeth), and with type of digestive tract.  Among the terrestrial monkeys and apes there is sexual dimorphism in teeth between males and females.  Elaborate on the evolutionary modifications and some of the theories which have been proposed for these changes.

  1. The Evolution of Primate Locomotion and Body Configuration

Discuss the changes that occurred in locomotion and body configuration (length of arms relative to legs and torso) through primate evolution.  Include hand proportions, tail lengths and type, body size and hair density in your discussion.  Elaborate on the evolutionary modifications and some of the theories which have been proposed for these changes.

D,  The Evolution of Primate Olfaction and Vision

Discuss the changes which took place in olfaction (smelling ability) and vision through primate evolution.  Include prognathism (jutting out of lower face), placement of eyes on head, stereoscopic vision and color vision in your discussion.  Elaborate on the evolutionary modifications and some of the theories which have been proposed for these changes.

E,  .The Evolution of Primate Sexuality and Social Organization

Discuss the changes which took place in sexuality and social organization through primate evolution.  Include a discussion of multi-male, dominant one male, and pair bonding in your discussion.  Also talk about mother-infant nurturing, the concept of the estrus cycle, and male vs. female sexual receptivity. Elaborate on the evolutionary modifications and some of the theories which have been proposed for these changes.

Structure of Term Paper (80 points or 80% of project)

The research paper averages seven pages in length, not including the cover page and works cited page. Grading breakdown if all else is done correctly:  6 to 7 pages-“C”, 8-9 pages “B”; 9-12 pages “A”. The paper should be double spaced, type written (normal 12 size font), with works cited on a separate page. Please number pages beginning with page one (not beginning with the cover page!).  Print out on one side only and not back to back!  Up to 25 points may be deducted for grammatical errors, so make sure to have several people who are good at writing proofread your paper before submitting it.  Alternatively, you could go to the student writing center on campus for assistance.  *Please include cover sheet and number each page of paper not including the cover page.

Introduction and Thesis Statement (15 points):

Creatively employ the material in your category into your introduction.  Next, pick a thesis statement.  The thesis is what you are going to argue.  Example:  For paper choice D, you could argue that primates developed improved vision due to natural selection pressures and an arboreal past.

The Body of the Paper (40 points):

The body should be a representation of your data.  You will be discussing your subject objectively through the grades of primate evolution while pointing out the modifications which occurred through time.  The grades of primate evolution are as follows:  Grade I-The Lemuroids; Grade II-The Tarsiers; Grade III -The Monkeys; and Grade IV-The Apes and Man (see chart in prior post).  You should plan on devoting approximately 1 to 2 pages of discussion to each of the grades in primate evolution.  Make sure you carry your discussion through to man.

With each grade, begin by describing some general background and introductory information on that category of primate. Next, devote the remaining discussion of each grade to your specific research subject.  Remember to avoid plagiarism and to document where you obtained your data by using paraphrasing (MLA, APA or AAA styles only) throughout your paper. Up to 20 points will be deducted if there is no documentation and partial point deduction for incorrect or insufficient documentation.

After you have discussed the changes that have occurred through the grades of primate evolution, include a paragraph toward the end of the body of your paper with your subjective perspective (personal opinion) on the subject material. This discussion should also include a critique of the literature and zoo trip.  Comment on the information you could or could not find. How did you feel about the zoo trip? Were you able to better visualize the primates you learned about?

*zoo trip has to do with ….. Please note that during the Corona Virus School closure an alternate assignment would be to visit the Los Angeles zoo web site and list the varieties of primates currently at this facility.  Are the varieties a good reflection of the diversity found in primates found on earth today?  How does our zoo compare to other zoos found in the US and worldwide? *

Conclusion (15 points or 15% of project)

Your conclusion should relate back to your thesis statement.  Work the thesis into your conclusion stated differently.  Also make a final statement, e.g. in this paper I have proven conclusively, or was not able to demonstrate conclusively that my thesis was correct.

Works Cited Page (10 points or 10% of project)

The works cited page should be on a separate page.  Entries should be single spaced with double spacing between them.  Entries should be listed last name first, first name last in alphabetical order.  If you are using a citation from a web site and no authors name is given, simply list by title.  I am expecting at least four professional sources to be listed and utilized beyond the textbook. Please only use professional sources for this project. Wikipedia, Reader’s Digest and religious publications are unacceptable for this assignment!  One of the single best sources to use for this project is:


1999                Primate Adaptation and Evolution, New York:  Academic Press

Use these on line sites for help in writing the paper: students must use this before handing in paper with documentation and paraphrasing formats. with reference cited


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