ANTH 3000 Primate Behavior

Instructor Contact:

Jonathan A. O’Brien, Ph.D.


About the Course:

The goal of this course is to examine the natural history and behavior of the nonhuman primates from an evolutionary, biological, ecological and social perspective and to develop your understanding of the variation in behaviors and ecology that characterize the primate order. The course is divided into three parts. During the first part of the course, an overview of the Order Primates and an introduction to the discipline of primatology will be provided. The relationships between different families of primates and their natural history will be discussed. This portion of the course will provide us with a foundation of knowledge that we will use throughout the remainder of the semester. In the second part of the course, the ecology of non-human primates will be examined. Because different behaviors may be adaptive in different environments, an appreciation of the habitats that primates occupy and the selective pressures they face in those environments is critical to an exploration of primate behaviors. The final portion of the course will focus on current research topics in primate behavior such as life history and cognition. In addition, there will be one required project that will allow you to apply your knowledge of the scientific method to understanding primate behavior. This course is approved for the arts and sciences core curriculum in the natural sciences.


After completing this course students should be able to:

  • Define and Diagnosis the Order Primates
  • Recognize the variation in the Order Primates
  • Summarize various habitats where primates live
  • Give examples of current primatalogical research

Required Texts:

  • Nystrom P and Ashmore P. 2008. The Life of Primates. “LOP” in syllabus.
  • Readings available online via Desire2Learn. “PDF” in syllabus.


Grades are based on the three exams that are worth 30 points each (40% of your final grad), 14 quizzes (20% of your final grade), 10 discussion posts (25% of your final grade), and 1 observation project (15%). Grades are not curved. There is no cumulative final – only a third exam covering materials since exam 2. There is no extra credit for this course.

  • 40% – 3 Exams
  • 20% – 14 Quizzes
  • 25% – 10 Discussion posts
  • 15% – 1 Project

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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado