The following is the first paper for the Field Studies class tomorrow and is due tomorrow at 9am via email.


1)            What are you most excited to learn about primates this semester?

I have always thought primates were amazing creatures and as a child, I envied Speed Racer’s brother Spridle more then I did Speed or his brother Rex simply because his best friend was a monkey.  I love dogs and when I met my wife, she had a dog that was part Australian Cattle dog and part American Staffordshire Terrier or American Pit Bull Terrier.  At the time, I was very uncomfortable around dogs in general let alone the maligned breed.  I was in a position where I could take the dog to work with me and I did so for about 3 months.  During that time, I tried to push her buttons so that I could get a negative reaction.  Nothing cruel, just touching her and rough housing with her.  Somehow during all of this we bonded and she chose me.  My ex-wife is a biologist and she pushed me to learn and understand Cassidy by providing me books on the breed and dogs.  I joined the Australian Cattle Dog email group and I read.  When Cassidy went through puberty and started to assert her dominance it manifested as aggression.  Through the help of more knowledgeable owners, I was able to understand the root cause.  This allowed me to better understand, control and protect her.

I want to learn about primates and what makes them tick, why do they do what they do and how does it apply to them.  Ultimately, this could become a career for me, as I think I would really enjoy working with primates.  With Dogs, I can look at body posture, tail, ears and movement to judge mood.  Since I understand their mental model, I can make them so happy they smile and I know when I have achieved my goal because it shows in their entire body posture.  Dogs ceased to be just animals and became beings and when I look at them, I can sort of gage what they are thinking.  Or I like to imagine that I can  Ultimately, I would like to be able to do the same or similar things with primates.

2)            Since most of you have never done a fieldwork class before, what is your biggest concern about doing fieldwork?

Safety is really the only concern that I have because I have a healthy respect for primates.  I realize that the average chimpanzee has the strength to remove your limbs from your body without realizing it did so.  Right now, this fear is fueled by a lack of knowledge and understanding of primates, their behaviors and most of all their body languages.  When Cassidy is going to act dominant, when she is going to become aggressive, there are signs.  By learning those signs, I was able to keep her from having altercations with other dogs.   I am sure as I observe them more and learn to read body language and understand their behaviors that this concern will fade as the amazing excitement created by this class replace that fear with knowledge and understanding.

I think you might like this video.  The first time I saw it, I watched it like 10 times.  See you tomorrow.


This professor has take home tests in the form of essay papers.  Class participation is worth an equal amount of your grade.  You get out of the classes exactly what you out in to it.

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About Old Guy Student

I am a 43 year old IT Consultant who has decided to go back to school and get a degree.

5 responses »

  1. But now the most important question, do you have a favorite species of primate??!

    • Gorillas will always be my favorite I think. Primarily because of the work done by Diane Fossey, the movie made about her and Koko. Unfortunately (fortunately?) the Sacramento Zoo does not have a Gorilla. Chimpanzees are a high favorite right now. 😀

      • Awesome! I’m a great ape person as well, though orange have stolen my heart. But I will be spending the summer researching chimps, so I’ve been reading up on them a lot and they’re just so fascinating! Their social structures are just amazing

      • I am still learning and I am not sure which will become my go to primate. I like the orangs but Amelia was just so full of herself and scored a major victory for the chimps. 🙂

      • That is really cool, the two orangutan at the Sacramento Zoo have been really amazing to watch. This is my first class and I have sooooo much to learn. I am taking physical anthropology too and that is filling in a lot of the gaps. The chimps are my current favorite because they appear to be so comtemplative. The troop at the zoo here, just had s change in the social hierarchy with the young male, Dougie, asserting his dominance and displacing Pablo. Pablo and Emelia have a daughter, Maria who chose Dougie’s side. It was predictable in a way because Maria and Dougie do the wild thing. Maria is on the pill because, well, we don’t need any baby chimps right now. 🙂

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