William C. McGrew
S ocial status in nonhuman primates (apes, monkeys and prosimians) varies as much as their social organization, and by mammalian standards, primate social structure is diverse ( Dunbar 1988). For solitary species, from aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascarensis) to orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), status beyond that of being a territory-holder is unclear and probably unnecessary. Even when neighbors meet in passing, they need not ascribe status to one another in order to interact. For family-living species, from titi monkeys (Callicebus spp.) to gibbons (Hylobates spp.) status seems to reflect reproductive division of labor (or role?) and even sexual dimorphism. In many prosimian species (e.g. Indri indri), the female is bigger than and dominates her mate ( Pollock 1979). In marmosets and tamarins (Callitrichidae), the breeding female in the group, who may have more than one mate, and therefore be polyandrous, may reproductively suppress all other females, dominating them both behaviorally and physiologically ( Epple and Katz 1984).
The most complex social status in nonhuman primates, in terms of both attainment and maintenance, occurs in group-living forms that lack exclusive or lasting pair bonds. These are best known in the troop-living monkeys of the Old (Cercopithecidae) and New (Cebidae) worlds ( Smuts et al. 1987). Here, social status seems to reflect sex differences in patterns of dispersal or philopatry: the sex that stays in the natal group takes part in the most complicated competition for status. For example, in baboons (Papio spp.) a female
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Publication information: Book title: Food and the Status Quest:An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Contributors: Polly Wiessner - Editor, Wulf Schiefenhövel - Editor. Publisher: Berghahn Books. Place of publication: Providence, RI. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 39.
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