Claud Bramblett’s Thoughts on Primatology

Primatology differs from most academic disciplines because it expressly focuses on members of that order (including humans).  Each discipline brings its traditional tools and perspectives so the common denominator is an interest in understanding primate biology or history.  Primatologists with an anthropology background are often organistic, that is, they tend to be interested in intact and functioning organisms rather than concentrating on mechanisms of life.  If they study a mechanism, they attempt to put it into the perspective of the living functioning primate.  As we look at contrasting adaptations in related species, evolutionary processes have performed a grand experiment that allows us to gain insight into the mechanisms and underlying biology.

Some of the great ape species could easily become extinct in the near future.  We have trouble understanding human biological history, but imagine how the presence of living primate relatives stimulates and enriches our data and insight.

One good cultural characteristic of Primatology is that the group exhibits a healthy gender balance among its scientists, unlike the male bias exhibited in some scientific traditions.    However the bottom line for me is that primate biology contains many great mysteries, adventures, and surprises.  The more we learn, the more we treasure them and the more all primates benefit.  When we look and think, there will always be another great mystery to be studied.

Our human species, with its great potential to wreck and ruin, also has the mental ability to understand the consequences.  Therefore, we are responsible for what we do.  I think, whether we like it or not, we have evolved into the De facto caretakers of our biological planet and its (and our) future.  We should study and act to make the future as good a place to be as possible.

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