Evolution of the special senses in primates: past, present, and future

Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol. 2004 Nov;281(1):1078-82. doi: 10.1002/ar.a.20112.


The present special issue of The Anatomical Record is the result of a symposium entitled Evolution of the Special Senses in Primates. Considered together, the special senses of primates are remarkable because they constitute a singular and definitive suite of mammalian characteristics. Examining their evolution is pivotal for understanding the origin and present-day variation of primate behavior and ecology. Accordingly, the 14 articles assembled here consider the different constraints and opportunities associated with the uptake and use of physical and chemical stimuli. The present issue brings together experts on different primate sensory modalities and stresses events at the sensory periphery, where the organism is exposed to and comes into contact with its environment. Key topics include color vision, the genetics of olfaction, the morphological basis and significance of chemical communication, and the neural organization and scaling of primate sensory systems. The result is a special issue that both reflects our current understanding of primate sensory modalities and challenges certain fundamental assumptions concerning their evolution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nervous System / anatomy & histology*
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Primates
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology
  • Taste / physiology
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology