Cousins: Our Primate Relatives

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[edit] General Information

Nature Documentary hosted by Charlotte Uhlenbroek and published by BBC in 2000 - English narration

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Image: Cousins-Cover.jpg

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'Cousins' is the most complete natural history investigation into the world of primates, our closest living relations - from the earliest beginnings to the great apes. By observing some of the world's most spectacular primates, we see the story of how they evolved into the most social and intelligent animals on earth, as well as discovering the roots of our own origins. Primate expert Charlotte Uhlenbroek is our adventurous guide and her closeness to the primates illuminates the series. We are often fascinated, sometimes repelled, by the idea of the similarities between ourselves and primates. But the light of what we now know about the complexities of their minds and societies, what really sets us apart?

[edit] First Primates

Uhlenbroek begins the series in Africa, observing a group of chimpanzees in the West African forest. In the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda she gets her first close encounter with a group of mountain gorillas. Like the chimps, they are descended from a common ancestor, similar to the pygmy mouse lemur found today in Madagascar's dry forests. It is a prosimian, a group of primates which are largely nocturnal, forced to hunt and feed at night by the more successful monkeys and apes. In common with all primates they have forward facing eyes and grasping hands. Other prosimians shown include Moholi bushbabies and South East Asia's slow lorises and tarsiers. The larger primates never reached Madagascar, making the island a sanctuary for prosimians, especially lemurs. Uhlenbroek watches Verreaux's sifakas feeding in didiera trees, then travels to the reed beds around Madagascar's largest lake to track the rare and elusive bandro. Greater bamboo lemurs are filmed for the first time. The limestone karst landscape of north Madagascar is home to crowned lemurs, and under the cliffs is a 40km long labyrinth of caves where giant fossilised lemurs have been discovered. Brown lemurs are shown eluding their main predators, a harrier hawk and a fossa. The aye-aye is a nocturnal specialist filmed extracting a grub with its spindly middle finger. The programme ends with a sequence on ring-tailed lemurs which form larger communities and spend more time on the ground than other lemurs. They have strictly hierarchical societies led by the females, who will even attack intruders as their babies cling to their backs.

[edit] The Monkeys

Uhlenbroek introduces the second episode from amongst gelada baboons in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia, demonstrating how monkeys are athletic, adaptable and social animals. The smallest monkeys are the marmosets and tamarins of South America and are unusual amongst primate because the fathers do most of the parenting. The pygmy marmoset and tassle-eared marmoset are shown. Other New World species are shown: spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys and black howler monkeys. Uhlenbroek calls to the howlers and ascends into the canopy to view them at close quarters. Monkeys originated in the Old World, and it is here that the greatest diversity of species are found. The black-and-white colobus of East Africa are leaf-eaters. Leaves contain many toxins, but the red colobus of Zanzibar have found an antidote in the form of charcoal. Diana monkeys belong to the guenons, a shy group of monkeys from the West African jungles. The patchwork jungle has led to many different species of guenon evolving. In South East Asia, the proboscis monkey eats tough mangrove leaves which it digests by fermentation. The langurs are another leaf-eating group: silvered monkeys from Malaysia, douc langurs from Vietnam and the rare golden monkeys of central China are all shown. Back in Africa, Uhlenbroek explains that it is the monkeys that have come out of the forest to live on the ground that are the most intelligent and have the most sophisticated societies as shown by the patas monkey and olive baboon.

[edit] The Apes

The final episode begins in the rainforest canopy of South East Asia, home to the smallest of the apes, the gibbons. A white-handed gibbon female sings a duet with her mate. Gibbons share with us flexible wrist and rotating shoulder joints, allowing them to swing under branches. Siamangs are the largest of the gibbons and combine their songs with a swinging dance. Humans share many other attributes with the great apes; strong family ties, intelligence, curiosity, reflection and the ability to manipulate our environment. In Borneo, orang-utans spend most of their time feeding in the trees. They use up to 20% of their energy to fuel their large brains, and a large brain is essential to learn the skills they need to survive in the forest, a process that takes several years. In Africa, Uhlenbroek sits amongst a group of mountain gorillas. In scenes reminiscent of David Attenborough's gorilla encounter in Life on Earth, one of the adolescent male gorillas chooses to make physical contact by buffeting her. She attributes this behaviour to "showing off". In Gombe, chimps are filmed using sticks as tools, and in Guinea another group has learned how to crack nuts with stones. Their human characteristics extend to affectionate hugs and kisses, but they have a dark side too, attacking and killing their own kind. Bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees) use sex to control their aggressive nature. Humans as the most successful apes have left our primate cousins far behind: we have language, technology, religion and a thirst for knowledge.

[edit] Screenshots

Image: Cousins-Screen0.jpg

[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: XviD
  • Video Bitrate: ~1760 kbps
  • Video Resolution: 688x384
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 1.792:1
  • Audio Codec: 0x2000(AC3, Dolby Laboratories, Inc) AC3
  • Audio Bitrate: 224 kbps
  • Audio Streams: 1
  • Audio Languages: English
  • RunTime Per Part: ~49 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 3
  • Part Size: ~699 MB
  • Subtitles: English, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian,
  • Ripped by Thanatos_

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