Definition of prosimian in US English:

prosimian

noun

Zoology
  • A primitive primate of a group that includes the lemurs, lorises, bushbabies, and tarsiers.

    Suborder Prosimii, order Primates: several families

    • ‘The celebrated eighteenth-century systematizer Carolus Linnaeus also located people firmly within the animal kingdom, constructing the primate order to accommodate humans, apes, monkeys, prosimians, and bats.’
    • ‘Lemurs are rare prosimians found only in Madagascar.’
    • ‘Only in recent decades have prosimians - a suborder of primates that includes lemurs, lorises, bushbabies, and tarsiers - begun to be studied systematically.’
    • ‘In primates, prosimians and Old World monkeys exhibit a moderate level of the enzymatic activity relative to mice and rabbits.’
    • ‘Intriguingly, lemurs and other prosimians - regarded as the most primitive primate suborder - exhibited a slightly greater frontal cortex proportion than people and great apes did.’

adjective

Zoology
  • Relating to the prosimians.

    Compare with simian
    • ‘‘If complexity of social structure is a pressure to develop certain aspects of intelligence, we should expect ring-tailed lemurs to surpass all other prosimian species on tasks that tap those aspects of intelligence,’ she said.’
    • ‘The monkey researchers feel subordinated by the ape researchers, but at least there's all these prosimian researchers we can dump on, making these snotty taxonomic arguments as to whether prosimians even count as primates.’
    • ‘The three analyses showed the same dichotomy with the prosimian sequences always separated from all the other primate sequences.’
    • ‘The Mongoose Lemur (scientific name Lemur mongoz) is not a mongoose at all, but a prosimian primate, a species of monkey and native only to Madagascar.’
    • ‘By pinpointing which cognitive abilities all primates share, including prosimian primates, we hope to determine what aspects of intelligence are general primate adaptations.’

Origin

Late 19th century: from pro- ‘before’ + simian.

Pronunciation

prosimian

/prōˈsimēən/