As I was lamenting on Twitter yesterday–why do all the cool things have to come out right when I shouldn’t be paying attention to them?! That aside, I decided I’d allow myself a little relaxation time to give the new primatology resource a review.
In 2004, Noel Rowe and Marc Meyers had decided a new version of the work, Pictorial Guide to Living Primates, was due given their previous version was released in 1996. Given the current culture of internet-based media and the fact that the climate and other aspects of the world change quickly, the authors thought a database would be the best option as it afforded a more fluid and accessible way of updating taxonomy and other information for researchers, students, and those interested in primatology. Hence, the creation of All the World’s Primates.
I had read Pictorial Guide to Living Primates during my time in Costa Rica, and I really enjoyed how easy it was to get the information, so I was very excited to see the information about All the World’s Primates come into my inbox.
When you first arrive on the website, you’re greeted with some of the A-listers of the primatology world: Jane Goodall has a foreword, the Richard Leakey foundation and Russ Mittermeier have introductions, Colin Groves has a taxonomy introduction, Todd Disotell has a molecular taxonomy introduction, and both John Fleagle and Chris Gilbert provide information on primate evolution. At first, it might seem overwhelming, but individuals can also avoid these by clicking on the tabs overhead.
One of the first things I did was to explore the tab “The Primate Order”–after the GRE, I’ll be going full steam ahead with preparing my research proposal and into the swing of researching lemurs, so my first stop was to explore what they had on the lemurs. Right away, they provide the authors and a group of pictures with captions so even the tyros of the primatology world can understand. The information provided is impressive and complete with a list of citations at the bottom. The pictures are varied and impressive–with skeletal remains to extant examples. But the thing I like most about this is that it’s very clean and easy to read. Despite this, the articles currently are very general–instead of giving each primate genus their own page (which I think would be more effective at getting information across), they list information by family and make note of specialized characteristics. Whether this is a permanent fixture or just temporary and to be expanded on over time remains to be seen.
My first reaction to the website was that it was pretty similar to Primate Info Net, however–there are some large differences between the two. One of the deviations is that All the World’s Primates offers forums for members to talk, in addition to a data mine. Currently, the data mine is still in development but looks very promising.
The thing I like most about All the World’s Primates is its glossary. One of my chief complaints about academic journal articles is that authors don’t define their terms enough. The glossary on All the World’s Primates provides a very comprehensive list of words commonly spotted throughout articles and pithily explains them.
Overall, I really like All the World’s Primates and could see it being a huge staple of the primatology world, much in the same vein as Primate Info Net. It allows for collaboration and a great resource for students. It’s got a user-friendly interface and while some things have yet to be developed, could be a great online source for every type of primatologist over time with some key changes–such as the data mine and perhaps adding more to the information sheets.