How Baboons Think

A nice article from today’s NY Times.


  1. Carl Gillett

    Liked the quote from Darwin that “he who understand baboons would do more towards metaphysics than Locke”. No slam on Locke, I just like the usage of “metaphysics” as understanding ultimate natural ontology.

    Grist to the metaphysics of science mill. I will have to get the BABOON METAPHYSICS book to find the reference. (I kid you not on the book title…)

  2. Eric

    Rank among female baboons is hereditary, with a daughter assuming her mother’s rank.

    News of that fact gave great satisfaction to a member of the British royal family, Princess Michael of Kent. She visited Dr. Cheney and Dr. Seyfarth in Botswana, remarking to them, they report: “I always knew that when people who aren’t like us claim that hereditary rank is not part of human nature, they must be wrong. Now you’ve given me evolutionary proof!”


  3. In female philopatric species or even in those species that for the benefit of its own fitness can exert a control on the relative number of offspring, is common that the behavioural ecology may put emphasis in rank heredity among mother´s daughters. But i can remember two different models of relationships depending of the selective pressures: the Trivers and Willard Model (TWM) of mother´s phisiological condition at the time of parturition and the Local Resources Competition (LRC),in which both the mother and the daughter compete for resources.

    The deduction i get is that hierarchy is not so straithforward because experts dissagree, and in relation to the passage quoted by Eric, is absolutely snobbish and disafortunate the comments made by that royal member because human hierarchy is not so inflexible as in other animals. Someone can be at the top in his own house, but being a subordinate in his job center, and once again at the top in his tennis club, and at the middle when he does volunteering.

  4. Carl Gillett

    Hey, if comparing themselves to baboons makes the British Royal family happy, then good for them.

    Anyway, perhaps accepting they have the characteristics (and probably IQ’s) of lower primates will stop Prince Philip shooting so many of our furry friends.

    PS I am English, so my “ethnic-identity” allows me to make these remarks…

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