Main Difference – Primates vs Non Primates
Primates and non-primates are two groups of animals. Most of the anatomy and physiology of primates and non-primates are similar. The main difference between primates and non primates is that primates possess a voluminous and complicated forebrain whereas non-primates possess a small brain. Primates also have an excellent sight. They are adapted to an arboreal existence. Some primate species possess a prehensile tail. Though most non-primates possess a small brain, some non-primates are pretty intelligent as primates. Crows, pigs, octopus, dolphins, and elephants are some intelligent non-primates.
Key Areas Covered
1. What are Primates
– Definition, Facts, Characteristics
2. What are Non Primates
– Definition, Facts, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Primates and Non Primates
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Primates and Non Primates
– Comparison of Key Differences
Key Terms: Brain, Eyes, Hands, Intelligence, Limbs, Non-Primates, Primates, Quadrapedal Animals
What are Primates
Primates refer to an order of mammals characterized by the large brain, usage of hands, and complex behavior. Humans, apes, monkeys, chimpanzees, gorilla, lemur, baboon, and orangutan are examples of primates. They exhibit a high level of social interaction and cultural adaptability. Their hands, tail, as well as feet, are prehensile. Most of them possess five fingers in each hand (pentadactyl). Their thumb is opposable, enabling grasping with the palm. They can hold their food and grab branches. However, the feet of humans are not prehensile. The limbs of the primates are highly dexterous from the shoulders and hip joints. This is ideal for swinging through trees.
One of the most distinguishable characteristics of primates is their brain. The olfactory region of the brain is highly reduced in primates. But, they possess a large forebrain or the cerebrum, increasing the reliance on the sight and social behavior. As a result, primates coordinate their hands with eyes. Primates also possess a clavicle. Most primates are quadrupedal animals. But all primates are capable of being erect. Humans are bipedal animals, standing on the hind legs.
What are Non Primates
Non-primates refer to any animal that is not a primate. Birds, reptiles, amphibians, and some mammals are non-primates. Generally, non-primates possess non-prehensile limbs or tails. Some non-primates such as insects possess jointed appendages. Their shoulders and hips are not flexible. The forebrain of non-primates is small. Thus, their thinking ability and intelligence are lower than those of primates.
However, crows, pigs, octopus, dolphins, and elephants are considered as intelligent non primates. Crows use their feet to utilize tools. They have the ability to hide and store food season to season. They possess an episodic-like memory from which they predict future conditions. The most intelligent domesticated animal is the pig. Pigs can learn how the mirrors work. Octopus is the most intelligent invertebrate animal. It has both short-term and long-term memory as well as the problem-solving skills. Dolphins exhibit a complex social behavior and a sophisticated language. Elephants that live in close-knit societies with intricate social hierarchy are the most intelligent non-primates. They exhibit altruism toward other animals. Pregnant female elephants have the knowledge to eat labour-inducing leaves as well.
Similarities Between Primates and Non Primates
- Both primates and non-primates are animals.
- Both primates and non-primates share basic anatomic structures.
- Both primates and non-primates share similar physiological processes.
Difference Between Primates and Non Primates
Primates: Primates refer to an order of mammals characterized by the large brain, usage of hands, and complex behavior.
Non Primates: Non-primates refer to any animal that is not a primate.
Primates: Humans, apes, monkeys, chimpanzees, gorilla, lemur, baboon, and orangutan are examples of primates.
Non Primates: Birds, reptiles, amphibians, and some mammals are non-primates.
Primates: Primates possess a voluminous and complicated forebrain.
Non Primates: Non primates possess a small forebrain.
Primates: Ideally, all primates are intelligent.
Non Primates: Some non primates are intelligent.
Primates: Primates have dexterous limbs.
Non Primates: Some non-primates have limbs for locomotion.
Grasping Power of the Hand
Primates: Primates have a thumb that is opposable to the other four fingers, enabling grasping with the palm.
Non Primates: Primates are unable to grasp with their thumbs.
Primates: Primates mainly rely on vision.
Non Primates: Non-primates mainly rely on smell.
Primates: Primates possess forward eyes with stereoscopic vision.
Non Primates: Non-primates possess different organizational levels in their eyes such as simple eyes and complex eyes.
Primates: Primates possess a clavicle.
Non Primates: Non-primates lack a clavicle.
Primates: Female primates have a menstrual cycle. At the end of the cycle, menstruation takes place in the absence of fertilization.
Non Primates: Female non-primates possess an oestrous cycle. No menstruation takes place in non-primates.
Primates: Primates are continuous breeders.
Non Primates: Non-primates are seasonal breeders.
Primates and non primates are two groups of animals with similar anatomical and physiological features. Primates possess a large brain and dexterous limbs. Non primates possess a small brain and non-flexible limbs. The main difference between primates and non-primates is the size of the brain and flexibility of the limbs.
1. “What Are the Major Characteristics of Primates?” Animals – mom.Me,
2. Gammon, Katharine. “The 5 Smartest Non-Primates on the Planet.” LiveScience, Purch, 29 July 2011,
1. “Three chimpanzees with apple” By Matthew Hoelscher – originally posted to Flickr as “Whatcha got there?” via
2. “House Crow RWD2″ By – Own work via