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Lecture 8

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McGill University
ANTH 203
Michael Bisson

Primate Behaviour Reconstructing Pre-Cultural Behaviour in the Human Line Common features in primate behaviour may have also been present in human ancestors Differences in behaviour within and between species hold clues to the adaptive significance of some traits Some people use primate behaviour to attempt to define 'human nature'. Controversial Anubis Baboons Ground feeders in environment similar to that of ancestral humans Open savannah Analogy between them and early humans is ecological and adaptational Studies 1. Solly Zukerman 1930's, London Zoo "Baboon Island" Didn't work well because the baboons were all dominants from different troops Captive population, no established social relationships Many fights between males, fatalities Characterized baboon social organization as male-centered and violent 2. Washburn and Devore 50's-60's Nairobi National Park Problem Short-term field seasons observing at distance Prevented from identifying individual baboons Causes errors in the observations Thought individual baboons never transferred from one troop to another Troops (W&D) 25-90 individuals Travel 5-7km a day Return to a habitual sleeping place (roost) Usually in a tree Omnivores Mostly plants Insects Small animals (gazelle fawns, ground birds) Home range average 25 km2 Different troops' can overlap Do not get into territorial defence if incursions by other Anubis baboon troops Unusual Core area average 5km2 Contains sleeping place, food and water resources, and refuges from predators Social organization Nucleus at the physical centre of the group 1. Top ranking adult males (aka central males) 2. Females with babies or young infants 3. Estrus females Ovulating/sexually receptive females Around the nucleus are adult females and juveniles At the outer fringes are lower-ranking adult males
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