I study prosimians, monkeys, and apes because I want to know myself better. And like they say, you can’t know your present without your past.
To most people, that might sound a little weird. It might sound a little bit like the “furry” lifestyle, or it might sound like I should potentially take a vacation on a psychiatrist’s chair. But it’s true: humans are monkeys. Well, more like great apes considering we lack tails, we’re generally larger, and we have greater cognitive abilities than most other primates. People like themselves in any capacity, despite any humilities someone might express. We like talking about themselves, thinking about themselves, learning about themselves. Thus, I study primates. I study communication, behaviors, ecology, cognition, morphology, etc.–because it teaches me about me, my family, my friends, my significant other, my classmates, my instructors, my co-workers–all the way up to people I haven’t even met yet.
I study primates, as well, because they teach me about what it means to truly be considerate.
Because of my interest in primates, I’ve become more aware of the world around me: if we do not take care of of our environment, we aren’t taking care of ourselves. For example, when we remove the plants or structural diversity of a given habitat, it can influence the composition, abundance, and distribution of animals and then become likely to congregate in areas with humans; thus, the rate of disease transmission between animals and humans, particularly because pathogens and vectors can mutate and change with the transmission (Pongsiri et al. 2009). HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Herpes B; these are a few of the very many examples in which disease from animals, which are recognizable in humans for the severity of the disease. Moreover, we are capable of spreading diseases to non-human primates (gastrointestinal parasites and tuberculosis are particularly damning for some primates) and thus, create a cyclical problem.
Obviously, conservation is important for other reasons. It’s important to be able to create long-lasting susbsistence patterns for meat-eating in areas where other food is less available, to be able to have primates fulfill their important role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers or predators, as predators of other animals or invertebrates. Everything deserves to have the ability to thrive.
That’s why this serious primate studies her own.
Pongsiri, M.J., Roman, J., Ezenwa, V.O., Goldberg, T.L., Koren, H.S., Newbold, S.C., Ostfeld, R.S., Pattanayak, S.K., & Salkeld, D.J. (2009). Biodiversity Loss Affects Global Disease Ecology. BioScience, 59(11), 945-954.