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8 - Chimpanzee society

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2009

W. C. McGrew
Affiliation:
Miami University
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Summary

Recently, there has been a spate of reports on eavesdropping in animals, in which individuals act differently, depending on who is watching or listening, and later modify their actions based on what they have seen or heard (Whitfield, 2002). For example, Siamese fighting fish pay close attention when their neighbours fight, and tailor their later interactions with winners and losers accordingly. Furthermore, defeated males prefer to court females who did not witness their humiliation. These impressive social achievements in such humble creatures yield several implications.

One is that, yet again, nonprimates and nonmammals show abilities that will surprise most primatologists, who in their blinkered existence often look for comparison only to humans, and not to fellow vertebrates. We are forced to acknowledge that one can only appreciate where human and nonhuman primates stand in relation to one another by taking a wider view.

A second implication is that nonhuman society is about more than behaviour, interaction, relationship, and social structure (Hinde, 1987). It is also about individuals calibrating their actions in relation to vicarious knowledge of others' behaviour, interactions, and relationships. Thus, by watching B, A learns not just how B acts, but also how B fits-in relative to B's interactants and relations. This is the basis for real society based on social cognition.

The most important implication is that eavesdropping creatures have the potential for culture based on collectivity.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Cultured Chimpanzee
Reflections on Cultural Primatology
, pp. 131 - 161
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • Chimpanzee society
  • W. C. McGrew, Miami University
  • Book: The Cultured Chimpanzee
  • Online publication: 29 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617355.009
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  • Chimpanzee society
  • W. C. McGrew, Miami University
  • Book: The Cultured Chimpanzee
  • Online publication: 29 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617355.009
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Chimpanzee society
  • W. C. McGrew, Miami University
  • Book: The Cultured Chimpanzee
  • Online publication: 29 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617355.009
Available formats
×