The Importance Of Primate Communication

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Overview
Communication is the basis for all primate social behavior. Primates communicate using a variety of modalities including olfaction, vision, and audition. While primate communication is an extensively researched topic, not all modalities have received the same amount of research. Acoustic communication has been the most often studied, followed by visual and then olfactory (Semple & Higham, 2013). Typically primates are considered visual animals and several species have the ability to recognize color variants, a wide range of facial expressions, and colorful markings. It has been argued as to whether primates are “microsmatic” (not heavily reliant on smell) compared to other mammals, such as rodents, that are considered “macrosmatic”
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Neural tissues, including sensory receptor cells require high ATP consumption. Senses can never truly be turned off, thus the cost of sensory organs are equally high at rest. An investment in a large organ is an indirect indication of its functional importance. A large sensory organ indicates that the sense is important for the survival and reproduction of the species. Two opposite evolutionary pressures have a major impact on the size of each sensory organ. These pressures are a decreased size of the organ to the save energy, yet the need of maximum sensitivity and resolution (which is correlated with large organs). Both pressures may determine the size of a certain organ. The size relations among sensory organs are determined by their mutual trade-off or co-operation. Numerous researchers consider olfaction a primitive sense. There is evidence of reduction in olfaction during evolution correlating with advancement in visual systems. Haplorhine primates’ reduction of functional olfactory genes provides support for this hypothesis (Nummela et al., …show more content…
Increased activity in brighter environments may be the basis for higher visual acuity in haplorhines. The shift in activity pattern could have altered the types of signals important to predator avoidance and selection of food and mates. Catarrhines are thought to have started inhabiting more open habitats, where visual signals could be detected at greater distances. An increase in cones and maintenance of varying forms of trichromacy is likely a result of the incorporation of more visual signals in haplorhine sensory repertoires (Garrett,

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