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Flashcards in Life History Traits Deck (6)
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Life history

The trajectory from conception to death and this varies widely. In general, mammals reproduce slowly, live long lives and acquire information from the world around them.


Single offspring

Nearly all primates give birth to a single offspring, whereas smaller mammals give birth to litters or twins, only marmosets and tamarins have twins. Single births combined with a long maturation period and the amount of time and energy the mothers invest in their offspring. This is a strategy where investment in a few offspring has replaced a more primitive mammalian pattern of litters with less intensive care.


Large brains

Primates have large brains. A high evolution in the increased volume of the neocortex of the brain which is involved in higher cognitive processes. The primate brain is such a large, metabolically expensive organ to grow and maintain, therefore it must have important survival and reproductive benefits.


Extended ontogeny, learned and instinctive behaviour.

Primates live by learned behaviours as much as they do by hardwired instinct. Many primates live in social groups, do the baby monkey therefore must learn how to be apart of said social group if it intends to become a successful member of the group and court a member of the opposite sex and rear offspring- these are largely learned behaviours. Thus its important for primates to be socialised within communities, this can take a long time throughout infancy and maturation.


Extended ontogeny,

The lifespan of a primate, like a gorilla, is longer than that of a mouse for example. This is due to the fact that the information a growing primate must learn in order to survive, in addition to finding food and water, they must learn how to live in a social group. Parental investment in the infant is dramatically greater in primates than rodents because the social skills require years of practice and maturation.


What does ontogeny mean?

The life cycle, the time a species spends in different stages of life.