Animal Diaries Archive
Monkey see, monkey do!
Primates are currently off display
18 April 2008
Primates are, as a general rule, social animals. Although each species differs in social structure, size and hierarchy, the same social traits can be seen throughout the primate world and indeed, across the animal kingdom including us. So what is a social behaviour? Social behaviours can be characterised as any interaction between one animal to another. These behaviours can include vocalisation, scenting, grooming, cuddling, fighting and much more. Just like in the human world, all animals are taught the right way to interact in their social families, and the importance of it. In most situations, a social animal cannot survive long on its own and so must learn to fit in with the group in some capacity. Most young primates can be seen playing or copying their peers which may look quite comical, but is actually an integral part of their learning process.
So what benefits come with living the social life style? Well, apart from squabbling over the best sleeping positions and the best portion of dinner, living in a group defiantly has its advantages. For example, at mealtimes when all are focused on filling their tummies, a small portion of the group will remain alert on their surroundings and watch for potential danger, otherwise known as a lookout. Such is the case with the tiny Cotton top Tamarin from Columbia who, without active lookouts could easily fall prey to other species. Chest beating displays in Gorillas are used to warn off bachelor males who may try to take over the group, and grooming amongst most primates can be used to strengthen alliances, reconciliation after conflict or can even be exchanged for food and protection. Perhaps the most important of social behaviours are those used for procreation. Various forms of vocalisation, grooming, wrestling, posture displays, nest building and more can be used to let the opposite sex and indeed the rest of the group know that mating season has arrived.
So, while we all enjoy a little quiet time to ourselves every now and again; a socially based lifestyle can defiantly be of benefit to us, just as it has our closest relatives.
Our Amazing Cotton-top Tamarins
Cotton-top Tamarins are part of a group called New world Monkeys. These pint sized primates have huge amounts of personality for their size. These animals only ...more