Skip to main content
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Oxford, Jon and Oxford, Darah 2017. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. p. 1.

  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: March 2010

6 - Primate sleep in phylogenetic perspective



The primates comprise a diverse group of eutherian mammals, with between some 200 and 400 species, depending on the taxonomic authority consulted (e.g., Corbet & Hill, 1991; Wilson & Reeder, 2005). Most of these species dwell in tropical forests, but primates also thrive in many other habitats, including savannas, mountainous forests of China and Japan, and even some urban areas. Living primates are divided into two groups, the strepsirrhines (lemurs and lorises) and the haplorrhines (monkeys, apes, and tarsiers). Strepsirrhines include mostly arboreal species and retain several ancestral characteristics, including greater reliance on smell and (in most species) a dental comb that is used for grooming. Most are nocturnal, but some have, in parallel with most haplorrhines, evolved a diurnal niche. They are found only in the Old World tropics. Haplorrhines are more widely distributed geographically, being found in both the New and Old Worlds. They include two groups, the platyrrhines and the catarrhines. Platyrrhines are monkeys native to the New World. Catarrhines include both Old World monkeys and apes. With the exception of owl monkeys in the genus Aotus, all monkeys and apes are active during the day (i.e., diurnal), and most live in bisexual social groups that vary in size from 2 to well over 100 adults (Smuts, Cheney, Seyfarth, et al., 1987).

Nonhuman primates are among the best-studied of mammals, in large part because of their close phylogenetic relatedness to humans.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Evolution of Sleep
  • Online ISBN: 9780511642074
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
Altmann, J. (1980). Baboon mothers and infants. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Altmann, J., Altmann, S., & Hausfater, G. (1981). Physical maturation and age estimates of yellow baboons, Papio cynocephalus, in Amboseli National Park. American Journal of Primatology, 1, 389–399.
Anderson, J. R. (1998). Sleep, sleeping sites, and sleep-related activities: Awakening to their significance. American Journal of Primatology, 46, 63–75.
Anderson, J. R. (2000). Sleep-related behavioural adaptations in free-ranging anthropoid primates. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 4, 355–373.
Anderson, J. R., & McGrew, W. C. (1984). Guinea baboons (Papio papio) at a sleeping site. American Journal of Primatology, 6, 1–14.
Ball, N. J. (1992). The phasing of sleep in mammals. In Stampi, C. (Ed.), Why we nap: Evolution, chronobiology, and functions of polyphasic and ultrashort sleep (pp. 31–49). Boston: Birkhauser.
Balzamo, E., Bradley, R. J., & Rhodes, J. M. (1972). Sleep ontogeny in the chimpanzee: From two months to forty-one months. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 33, 47–60.
Balzamo, E., Santucci, V., Seri, B., Vuillon-Cacciuttolo, G., & Bert, J. (1977). Nonhuman-primates: Laboratory animals of choice for neurophysiologic studies of sleep. Laboratory Animal Science, 27, 879–886.
Barton, R. A. (1998). Visual specialization and brain evolution in primates. The Royal Society of London Series B–Biological Sciences, 265, 1933–1937.
Barton, R. A., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (1997). Evolution of the social brain. In Whiten, A. & Byrne, R. W. (Eds.), Machiavellian intelligence II: Extensions and evalutations (pp. 240–263). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Barton, R. A., Purvis, A., & Harvey, P. H. (1995). Evolutionary radiation of visual and olfactory brain systems in primates, bats, and insectivores. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, Series B, 348, 381–392.
Bert, J. (1975). Generic characteristics and specific characteristics of the ponto-geniculo-occipital spike activity (PGO) in 2 baboons, Papio hamadryas and Papio papio. Brain Research, 88(2), 362–366.
Bert, J., Balzamo, E., Chase, M., & Pegram, V. (1975). The sleep of the baboon, Papio papio, under natural conditions and in the laboratory. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 39, 657–662.
Bert, J., Kripke, D. F., & Rhodes, J. (1970). Electroencephalogram of the mature chimpanzee: Twenty-four hour recordings. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 28(4), 368–373.
Bert, J., & Pegram, V. (1969). The sleep electroencephalogram in Cercopithecinae: Erythrocerbus patas and Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus. Folia Primatologica, 11(1), 151–159.
Bert, J., Pegram, V., & Balzamo, E. (1972). Comparison of sleep between 2 Macaca species (Macaca radiata and Macaca mulatta). Folia Primatologica, 17(3), 202–208.
Bininda-Emonds, O. R. P., Cardillo, M., Jones, K. E., MacPhee, R. D. E., Beck, R. M. D., Grenyer, R., et al. (2007). The delayed rise of present-day Mammals. Nature, 446, 507–512.
Blomberg, S. P., & Garland, T. (2002). Tempo and mode in evolution: Phylogenetic inertia, adaptation and comparative methods. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 15, 899–910.
Blomberg, S. P., Garland, T., & Ives, A. R. (2003). Testing for phylogenetic signal in comparative data: Behavioral traits are more labile. Evolution, 57, 717–745.
Boesch, C., & Boesch-Achermann, H. (2000). The chimpanzees of the Tai Forest. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Capellini, I., Barton, R. A., McNamara, P., Preston, B., & Nunn, C. L. (2008a). Ecology and evolution of mammalian sleep. Evolution, 62, 1764–1776.
Capellini, I., Nunn, C. L., McNamara, P., Preston, B., & Barton, R. A. (2008b). Sleep cycles, predators, and energetics in mammals. Functional Ecology, 22, 847–853.
Carroll, D. A., Denenberg, V. H., & Thoman, E. B. (1999). A comparative study of quiet sleep, active sleep, and waking on the first 2 days of life. Developmental Psychobiology, 35(1), 43–48.
Carskadon, M. A., & Dement, W. C. (2006). Normal human sleep: An overview. In Kryger, M. H., Roth, T., & Dement, W. C. (Eds.), Principles and practice of sleep medicine (4th ed., pp. 13–23). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
Cartmill, M. (1974). Rethinking primate origins. Science, 184(135), 436–443.
Chapman, C. A., Gillespie, T. R., & Goldberg, T. L. (2005). Primates and the ecology of their infectious diseases: How will anthropogenic change affect host–parasite interactions?Evolutionary Anthropology, 14,134–144.
Corbet, G. B., & Hill, J. E. (1991). A world list of mammalian species. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davies, C. R., Ayres, J. M., Dye, C., & Deane, L. M. (1991). Malaria infection rate of Amazonian primates increases with body weight and group size. Functional Ecology 5, 655–662.
Day, R. T., & Elwood, R. W. (1999). Sleeping site selection by the golden-handed tamarin Saguinus midas midas: The role of predation risk, proximity to feeding sites, and territorial defence. Ethology, 105,1035–1051.
Di Bitetti, M. S., Vidal, E. M. L., Baldovino, M. C., & Benesovsky, V. (2000). Sleeping site preferences in tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella nigritus). American Journal of Primatology, 50, 257–274.
Disotell, T. R. (2008). Primate Phylogenetics. In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. Chinchester: John Wiley and Sons.
Dunbar, R. I. M. (1992). Neocortex size as a constraint on group size in primates. Journal of Human Evolution, 20, 469–493.
Dunbar, R. I. M. (1998). The social brain hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology, 6, 178–190.
Elgar, M. A., Pagel, M. D., & Harvey, P. H. (1988). Sleep in mammals. Animal Behavior, 36, 1407–1419.
Felsenstein, J. (1985). Phylogenies and the comparative method. The American Naturalist, 125, 1–15.
Foley, R. A., & Lee, P. C. (1989). Finite social space, evolutionary pathways, and reconstructing hominid behavior. Science, 243, 901–906.
Freckleton, R. P., Harvey, P. H., & Pagel, M. (2002). Phylogenetic analysis and comparative data: A test and review of evidence. The American Naturalist, 160, 712–726.
Fruth, B., & Hohmann, G. (1993). Comparative analyses of nest building behavior in bonobos and chimpanzees. In Wrangham, R. W., McGrew, W. C., Waal, F. B. M., & Heltne, P. G. (Eds.), Chimpanzee cultures (pp. 109–128). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Ganguly-Fitzgerald, I., Donlea, J., & Shaw, P. J. (2006). Waking experience affects sleep need in Drosophila. Science, 313, 1775–1781.
Garland, T., Harvey, P. H., & Ives, A. R. (1992). Procedures for the analysis of comparative data using phylogenetically independent contrasts. Systematic Biology, 4, 18–32.
Gartlan, J. S., & Brain, C. K. (1968). Ecology and social variability in Cercopithecus aethiops and C. mitis. In Jay, P. C. (Ed.), Primates: Studies in adaptation and variability (pp. 253–292). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Gaulin, S. J. C., & Gaulin, C. K. (1982). Behavioral ecology of Alouatta seniculus in Andean cloud forest. International Journal of Primatology, 3(1), 1–32.
Goodall, A. (1979). The wandering gorillas. London: William Collins & Sons.
Hausfater, G., & Meade, B. J. (1982). Alternation of sleeping groves by yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus) as a strategy for parasite avoidance. Primates, 23, 287–297.
Heymann, E. W. (1995). Sleeping habits of tamarins, Saguinus mystax, and Saguinus fuscicollis (Mammalia: Primates; Callitrichidae), in northeastern Peru. Journal of Zoology, London, 237, 211–226.
Hilton-Taylor, C. (2002). IUCN Red List of threatened species. Morges: IUCN.
Horr, D. A. (1977). Orangutan maturation, growing up in a female world. In Chevalier-Skolnikoff, S. & Poirier, F. E. (Eds.), Primate bio-social development (pp. 289–321). New York: Garland Publishing.
Hsieh, K. C., Robinson, E. L., & Fuller, C. A. (2008). Sleep architecture in unrestrained rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) synchronized to 24-hour light-dark cycles. Sleep, 31(9), 1239–1250.
Ives, A. R., Midford, P. E., & Garland, T. (2007). Within-species variation and measurement error in phylogenetic comparative methods. Systematic Biology, 56, 252–270.
Janson, C. H. (1992). Evolutionary ecology of primate social structure. In Smith, E. A., & Winterhalder, B. (Eds.), Evolutionary ecology and human behavior (pp. 95–130). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Koyama, N. (1973). Dominance, grooming, and clasped-sleeping relationships among bonnet monkeys in India. Primates, 14, 225–244.
Kummer, H. (1968). Social organization of Hamadryas baboons: A field study. Bibliotheca Primatologica, 6.
Lesku, J. A., RothII, T. C., Amlaner, C. J., Lima, S. L. (2006). A phylogenetic analysis of sleep architecture in mammals: The integration of anatomy, physiology, and ecology. The American Naturalist, 168, 1–13.
Lima, S. L., Rattenborg, N. C., Lesku, J. A., & Amlaner, C. J. (2005). Sleeping under the risk of predation. Animal Behavior, 70, 723–726.
Lindenfors, P., Nunn, C. L., & Barton, R. A. (2007). Primate brain architecture and selection in relation to sex. BioMed Central Biology, 5 (20). doi:10.1186/1741-7007-5-20.
Maddison, W. P., & Maddison, D. R. (2006). Mesquite: A modular system for evolutionary analysis, version 1.1. See
Martin, R. D. (1990). Primate origins and evolution. London: Chapman & Hall.
Martin, R. D., & Ross, C. F. (2005). The evolutionary and ecological context of primate vision. In Kremers, J. (Ed.), The primate visual system: A comparative approach (pp. 1–36). Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.
McNamara, P., Capellini, I., Harris, E., Nunn, C. L., Barton, R. A., & Preston, B. (2008). The phylogeny of sleep database: A new resource for sleep scientists. The Open Sleep Journal, 1, 11–14.
Midford, P. E., Garland, Jr., T., & Maddison, W. P. (2005). PDAP package of Mesquite, version 1.07.
Nunn, C. L., & Altizer, S. (2005). The global mammal parasite database: An online resource for infectious disease records in wild primates. Evolutionary Anthropology, 14, 1–2.
Nunn, C. L., & Altizer, S. M. (2006). Infectious diseases in primates: Behavior, ecology, and evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nunn, C. L., & Barton, R. A. (2001). Comparative methods for studying primate adaptation and allometry. Evolutionary Anthropology, 10, 81–98.
Nunn, C. L., & Heymann, E. W. (2005). Malaria infection and host behaviour: A comparative study of neotropical primates. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 59, 30–37.
Nunn, C. L., & Schaik, C. P. (2002). Reconstructing the behavioral ecology of extinct primates. In Plavcan, J. M., Kay, R. F., Jungers, W. L., & Schaik, C. P. (Eds.), Reconstructing behavior in the fossil record (pp. 159–216). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.
Oates, J. F. (1987). Food distribution and foraging behavior. In Smuts, B. B., Cheney, D. L., Seyfarth, R. M., Wrangham, R. W., and Struhsaker, T. T. (Eds.), Primate Societies (pp. 197–209). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pagel, M. (1997). Inferring evolutionary processes from phylogenies. Zoologica Scripta, 26, 331–348.
Pagel, M. (1999). Inferring the historical patterns of biological evolution. Nature, 401, 877–884.
Pagel, M., & Meade, A. (2007). BayesTraits Version 1.0. Reading, UK.
Pagel, M., Meade, A., & Barker, D. (2004). Bayesian estimation of ancestral character states on phylogenies. Systematic Biology, 53, 673–684.
Perachio, A. A. (1971). Sleep in the nocturnal primate, Aotus trivirgatus. Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress on Primates (vol. 2, pp. 54–60). Basel: Karger.
Plavcan, J. M., & Schaik, C. P. (1997). Intrasexual competition and body weight dimorphism in anthropoid primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 103, 37–68.
Purvis, A. (1995). A composite estimate of primate phylogeny. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, Series B, 348, 405–421.
Purvis, A., Nee, S., & Harvey, P. H. (1995). Macroevolutionary inferences from primate phylogeny. Proceedings of the Royal Society London Series B, 260, 329–333.
Rattenborg, N. C., Voiren, B., Vyssotski, A. L., Kays, R. W., Spoelstra, K., Kuemmeth, F., et al. (2008). Sleeping outside the box: Electroencephalographic measues of sleep in sloths inhabiting a rainforest. The Royal Society Biology Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2008.0203.
Reite, M., Stynes, A. J., Vaughn, L., Pauley, J. D., & Short, R. A. (1976). Sleep in infant monkeys: Normal values and behavioral correlates. Physiology and Behavior, 16(3), 245–251.
Salzarulo, P., & Ficca, G. (2002). Awakening and sleep-wake cycle across development. Philadelphia: J. Benjamins.
Smuts, B. B., Cheney, D. L., Seyfarth, R. M., Wrangham, R. W., & Struhsaker, T. T. (1987). Primate societies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Suzuki, K. (1965). The pattern of mammalian brain gangliosides: Evaluation of the extraction procedures, postmortem changes and the effect of formalin preservation. Journal of Neurochemistry, 12(7), 629–638.
Tattersall, I. (1987). Cathemeral activity in primates: A definition. Folia Primatologica, 49, 200–202.
Thurber, A., Jha, S. K., Coleman, T., & Frank, M. G. (2008). A preliminary study of sleep ontogenesis in the ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Behavioural Brain Research, 189, 41–51.
Tobler, I. (2005). Phylogeny of sleep regulation. In Kryger, M., Roth, T., & Dement, W. (Eds.), Principles and practice of sleep medicine (4th ed., pp. 77–90). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
Schaik, C. P. (1983). Why are diurnal primates living in groups?Behaviour, 87, 120–143.
Schaik, C. P., & Janson, C. (2000). Infanticide by males and its implications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Vessey, S. H. (1973). Night observations of free-ranging rhesus monkeys. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 38(2), 613–619.
Vuillon-Cacciuttolo, G., Balzamo, E., Petter, J. J., & Bert, J. (1976). Wakefulness-sleep cycle studied by telementry in a lemurian (Lemur macaco fulvus). Revue d'électroencéphalographie et de neurophysiologie clinique, 6(1), 34–36.
Wilson, D. E., & Reeder, D. M. (2005). Mammal species of the world. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Wolfe, N. D., Escalante, A. A., Karesh, W. B., Kilbourn, A., Spielman, A., Lal, A. A. (1998). Wild primate populations in emerging infectious disease research: The missing link?Emerging Infectious Diseases, 4, 149–158.
Zepelin, H., Siegel, J. M., & Tobler, I. (2005). Mammalian sleep. In Kryger, M. H., Roth, T., & Dement, W. C. (Eds.), Principles and practice of sleep medicine (4th ed, pp. 91–100). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.