The Value of Social Relationships During Aging in Female Rhesus Macaques

Rhesus monkeys have an intricate social structure. There is a dominance hierarchy, meaning that not all individuals enjoy the same rank in the group. This also effects the value that individuals gain from each of their relationships. Obviously, having powerful allies is of great value. And to maintain a powerful position requires allies. These are all … More The Value of Social Relationships During Aging in Female Rhesus Macaques

New Research Characterizes Mountain Gorilla “Friendships”

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” The more we look, the more we find. This is especially true when it comes to the social dynamics of animals. Scientists continue to document the complex nature of social relationships, particularly in birds and mammals. It seems we are constantly saying, “I didn’t know animals did … More New Research Characterizes Mountain Gorilla “Friendships”

The Birth of a Cultural Meme: The “Do Not Disturb” Gesture in Mandrills

(A longer discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) Mandrills are, literally, one of the most colorful creatures on earth and certainly the most colorful primates. Their striking faces are matched only by the bright coloring of their hindquarters. (Their genitals are colorful, too, if you must know!) The coloring is part … More The Birth of a Cultural Meme: The “Do Not Disturb” Gesture in Mandrills

The “Trimates,” The Founding Mothers of Primatology

Science moves so fast in our modern era that we forget how young some scientific disciplines really are. Darwin founded evolutionary biology just over 150 years ago. Mendel did the same for modern genetics around the same time, although his work didn’t blossom (pardon the pun) until several decades later. The scientific study of animal behavior didn’t really … More The “Trimates,” The Founding Mothers of Primatology

The moral codes of other human species

The complex sets of drives and calculations that we call morality rise from our basic human instincts toward reciprocity, fairness, and empathy. These instincts are called prosocial because they promote cohesion and harmony in the social context of herds, packs, and families. However, humans are not alone in having prosocial instincts. Many, indeed MOST, mammals show prosocial … More The moral codes of other human species

Is Violence What Made Humans Smarter than Other Animals?

It is readily apparent that humans are, by far, the most intelligent species on the planet. How this came to be, however, is anything but clear. Our substantial cognitive abilities are made possible by our enormous brains. When it comes to brain size (relative to body size), humans have the largest brains of any vertebrate. … More Is Violence What Made Humans Smarter than Other Animals?

Other Primates Use Speech and Vocabulary

(A longer discussion of animal communication is found in my book.) Human language seems so much more complicated and organized than anything experienced by animals. Nevertheless, animals do indeed communicate complex ideas using precise, intentional communication. Some primate species even have discrete audible words with unambiguous meanings. In other words, they have their own spoken languages and … More Other Primates Use Speech and Vocabulary