Primate behaviour

Chimpanzee mother and offspring

Primates (lemurs, monkeys, apes and humans) are animals that invest a great deal of parental care in their offspring. During this time, youngsters learn complex social behaviours essential for survival like communication, cooperation and sharing.

Within a group of primates, when two social primates are competing for a resource such as a mate, they are likely to exhibit a threat display to one another.

These are also known as ritualistic displays. This display makes them look larger and fiercer than normal and eventually one will concede defeat by displaying appeasement behaviours, eg grooming, certain facial expressions or body postures and sexual presentation.

PrimateFeatures of ritualistic behaviour
ChimpanzeeShoulders hunched, arms held out, mouth open, teeth covered by lips
GorillaChest-beating, roaring, strutting walk, eyes staring
Vervet monkeyHead bobbing, mouth open, tail arched over body

Ritualistic displays and appeasement behaviours are important because they can reduce unnecessary conflict within a close-knit group therefore increasing the chance of survival.

Alliances often form between individuals which are often used to increase social status within the group.

Mountain Gorilla beating chest
Mountain Gorilla beating his chest
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