Thursday, September 21, 2006

Primates that Care about Each Other

An important part of living in a group is taking care of each other. Many animals will protect each other, share food and help in finding suitable means of shelter. Among all animals, primates characteristically are very social animals and live in community settings. In times of need primates such as baboons and chimpanzees will display great amounts of compassion and guidance towards others in their group.

Jennifer Viegas, of Discovery News, wrote an article on chimpanzees’ behavior when it comes to dangerous encounters. In West Africa, a group of chimpanzees attempt to cross a man-made road that cuts through their forest habitat. These chimpanzees prove that you don’t need orange vests or big red stop signs to be a crossing guard. To accomplish this task the alpha male in the group first makes sure that the road is clear of all pedestrians, bikes and motor vehicles. Then he uses arm motions to signal the rest of the group to cross in an orderly line. This example displays the chimpanzees’ ability to take care of each other and show concern.

Another example of primate’s behavior in regards to their community can be seen in a different article, also written by Viegas. This article is entitled, Grieving Baboons Comforted by Friends, on Animal Planet News. The baboons that are grieving are described as being withdrawn from the group and experiencing high levels of stress hormones. The baboon community reacts by showing concern in their mourning for the loss of a group member. They also show concern for the well being of each other through comforting actions such as grooming. Comforting one another is again a display of primates taking care of those closest to them.

Expressing concern for each other in a community seemed to be a prominent theme in Viegas’ articles. Chimpanzees proved that at times they will take on leadership roles and guide the group to safety. Baboons on the other hand, expressed concern in a more compassionate way.

Posted by TML (3)


At 8:17 PM, Anonymous MJP said...

This blog was well written. It gives a good insight to the cognative processes of primates. This kind of research is important because primates mirror humans on many levels, and this research adds another dynamic to the comparison between us and them. Two things that I found interesting in the articles were: (1) In the first article it says that the chimps cross the road together, but in the forest they like to spread out. (2) In the second article the mother baboon that lost her child was always mean to the other baboons, but when she lost her child she seeked comfort in the other baboons. It's interesting that there is a duality in both cases.

"Posted by MJP"

At 3:39 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This article is really interesting. It is nice to see how chimpanzees have the ability to take care of each other. I am amazed how the alpha chimpanzee first made sure the road was safe for them, and then led other chimpanzees to cross the road as well. Wow! Nice topic choice.

Posted by MIS

At 5:35 PM, Blogger PWH said...

The main reason that I chose this topic was because I mostly enjoyed the chimpanzee article. Not only were the chimpanzees entertaining in their demonstration of crossing roads, but like MJP, I also saw the importance of the correlating cognitive factors that they share with humans. The duality displayed by the primate’s I think is a very important aspect in that it gives us an idea of how varying their behavior can become, with simple changes in their environment. Thank you both for the comments; I enjoyed seeing what you thought about the articles.

Posted by TML

At 8:57 PM, Blogger PWH said...

As a person who did their topic on primates also, I certainly see the attraction of picking this topic. Chimps and other primates are giving us insight into the animal psyche ever day that we get to study them. Other animals with similar learning capacity (dolphins, elephants) are also being looked at to discover what level of connection they feel with others of their kind and, in some cases, with humans. This area of research is one of my favorites in the scope of animal behavior. Great topic!
Posted by Adam Stackhouse


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