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Research Paper on Primates' Social Behaviors

6 pages
1543 words
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Anthropologists have ever been involved in the study of non-human subjects as a way of inquiring about the origin of life and the reason for the gradual developments of both animal and human subjects. In most instances, the scientific discoveries become challenged by ever-changing associations and characteristics of the animals under study leading to the need for new research aimed at revealing current and viable information about the possible anthropogenic changes. For that matter, it has come to the scientific knowledge that non-human primates are still evolving and most are now using tools to enhance their survival. Primatology denotes the study of non-human primates which are characterized by specific advanced developments like the binocular vision, enlargement of the cerebral hemispheres, specialization of appendages that support grasping and making and using of tools. This article seeks to analyze and deepen the knowledge of non-human primates specifically their social behavior; the factors associated with the practice of infanticide, the factors that are associated with primates social actions, and primates different ways of communication.

According to De Waal, (2009), semi-terrestrial areas make baboons adapt a culture of being in a large group community to protect them from their predators. Also, ganging up of baboons is a way of preserving the scarce food resources for the cases where the food at risk is fruits. For colobus, they form smaller social groups to counter the little competition for food. on the other hand, orangutans lead a private, solitary life except for the mothers who have children. Another aspect of non-human primates is that chimpanzees from different troops meet to find mates, to enhance friendship. The issue of meeting other troops results in violence.

There are several non-human primate social groups like single-female which are usually characterized by walking with their offspring, fission-fusion society, monogamous family groups, multimale-multifemale group, one-male-several-female group and polyandrous family groups. For the single females with offspring, the males lead a separate and private life but only come together during mating (Smith, Agmo, Birnie & French, 2010). The separation occurs when the male and female in galagos reach maturity. There are also monogamous family groups that are composed of adult male and females with their children. When the children grow up, they separate to form nuclear families mostly in titi, monkeys, indris, siamangs and some pottos (De Waal, 2009). The factors that lead to polyandrous family groups is the fact that several males end up mating a single adult female which bears twins. The males in the polyandrous team are responsible for carrying the babies on their backs.

Semi-terrestrial areas are the causative factors for the formation of multimale-multifemale social groups. The groups are not characterized by heterosexual bonds since both male and females have a different number of mates. The examples of the primates with the type of social groups are the baboons, macaques and the colobus. Since most of the primate social behaviors were, as a result, the environmental, responsibility and safety measures, the early hominin groups formed groups that were as a result of ensuring that the security of the members was achieved. For instance, the hominin social groups were in the form of monogamous family ties that had extended family groups to enhance unity of the hominins.

The factors that lead to infanticide is the problems of sexual selection, resource competition, social pathology, and exploitation. In most cases, maternal infanticide in capuchin occurs when there is competition for resources, or the available food tends to be exploited. For that matter, the young ones are usually taken as food in a process termed as cannibalism. Also, they infanticide the young for the protection against aggression or a way of obtaining maternal experience (Opie, Atkinson, Dunbar & Shultz, (2013). For a better idea of infanticide, adult females snatch a young one from its mother and starve it to death as a way of gaining experience of motherhood, but due to lack of what to feed the baby, they end up causing its death. In Langurs, like the Asian leaf monkey, they form polygynous bands making males to disperse leaving the female alone. Since the men tend to wander around, they start oppressing the other males to take over their group females. To solve the problem, one of the male langurs usually decide to drive away the weak and kill off the babies. The new male intruder usually kills all the unweaned infants in the group that is attacked by the wondering males.

According to Ouattara, Lemasson, and Zuberbuhler (2009), adult males Campbell's depict specific calls of emergency like krak,' hok and wak. Kak is a warning that is normally given once to warm others about leopards. For falling of a tree, they add a suffix o to make it sound krak-oo.' On the other hand, the root Hok indicates that there are birds of prey like the eagles. Primates maintain group harmony by organizing their group with each member having a role. For instance, for security purposes, monkeys usually place a young one at the uppermost part of a tree to observe security as they invade a plantation. On the other hand, sometimes primates teach the young ones of different communication approaches like visual messages, touching, smells in conjunction with the use of sounds. Additionally, some primates like the baboons and monkeys employ the use of facial expression whenever they are expressing that they are hurt or are facing distress and psychological problems. The chimpanzees apply facial expressions in showing appeals of sharing. The prosimians depict an excellent sensing ability thus use body odors as a way of communicating. Some primates make their territories by the use of urine for instance tamarins and marmosets. They use scent marking to warn their fellows about a threat from predators and as a warning for their intruders.

The animals given roles are typically brought food. The most important aspect is security and harmony of the groups. For that matter, if a young one fails to alarm the primates in the field, it is usually subjected to a form of punishment. In human societies, there are aspects of language that aid communication which is in line with that of non-human primates (Smith et al., 2010). Additionally, humans tend to offer punishments for the wrongs done by the young ones the way non-human primates do.

In maintaining group cohesion, most primates trim the groups they are a part of eliminating the grown-ups to start up a new group that is manageable. Grooming in primates increases as the team grows up. In most instances, cohesion is enhanced whenever the group size exceeds 40 members, and it is achieved by dispersal patterns and sex ratios. In improving group cohesion, most primates trim their groups to the manner that the primates do not become subjects to predation (Smith et al., 2010). Additionally, most primates maintain group cohesion by sitting together calmly, touching each other, and keeping a mutual grooming appeal as a way of enhancing affiliate behaviors. Monkeys and apes apply the aspect of allogrooming which is a powerful tool for communication. Allogrooming enhances male-female mates bonds and same-sex friendship ties. In chimpanzees, there are aspects of ecstatic bouts in line with allogrooming which take several hours whenever an old acquaintance re-unites with the group or community. Regarding Laland and Galef (2009), primates, grooming infants is an aspect that is highly valued thus most of the group members compete for a chance to groom the young ones. In baboons, males maintain group harmony by introducing groups that contain females and adding them to the men thus allowing them to socialize for a particular time before allowing the female breeders back in the main group cage.

In conclusion, this essay has analyzed and found out that different primates depict their various social leanings. For instance, it has been found out that some non-human primates like chimpanzees tend to show socially acquired characteristics like the one that infanticide as a way of solving the problems and conflicts among the males and females. The other aspect discussed is the ways of maintaining group cohesion which entails allogrooming. In allogrooming, it has been found out that most of the group members tend to compete in grooming the young ones as a way of establishing and maintaining togetherness. It has also been found out that most primates keep a given social behavior like staying in groups due to the factors that they meet in the society. For instance, the strain of resources may lead to infanticide yet in some cases infanticide occurs as a way of non-lactating adults females desiring to learn on how to rare their young ones.



De Waal, F. B. (2009). Tree of origin. What primate behavior can tell us about human social evolution. Harvard University Press.

Laland, K. N., & Galef, B. G. (2009). The question of animal culture. Harvard University Press.

Opie, C., Atkinson, Q. D., Dunbar, R. I., & Shultz, S. (2013). Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(33), 13328-13332.

Ouattara, K., Lemasson, A., & Zuberbuhler, K. (2009). Campbell's monkeys use affixation to alter call meaning. PloS one, 4(11), e7808.

Smith, A. S., Agmo, A., Birnie, A. K., & French, J. A. (2010). Manipulation of the oxytocin system alters social behavior and attraction in pair-bonding primates, Callithrix penicillata. Hormones and behavior, 57(2), 255-262.


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