by John Rafferty
The evolutionary adaptations common to primates suggest that the first primate species were most likely tree-dwellers and predators, possibly insect eaters. This determination is based on the presence of grasping feet, the tactile sensitivity in the hands and feet, and the forward-facing orientation of their eyes. Modern primate species have evolved to thrive in a variety of environments. The body size of modern primates ranges from the tiny 35-gram (1-ounce) mouse lemur to the large 180-kg (400-pound) gorilla. Primates may travel by leaping or swinging from branch to branch or by walking on either two or four legs. (Humans, however, are the only modern primate species that consistently practice bipedalism.) Non-human primates are widely distributed throughout the tropical regions of Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and South America. A few species are also adapted to life in the more temperate regions of China and Japan. Many primate species are now considered endangered due to loss of habitat, which is particularly acute in Asia and to a lesser extent in Africa and South America.