Primate live in family groups where the young remain until they reach sexual maturity. The organisation of the groups show a heirachy - where different individuals have different status and roles within the group. It leads to social control within the group which protects all group members.
Primates have large brains with a highly deveoped cerebral cortex - linked to social developemtn and interaction. it is thought all social behaviours are derived from the extended dependency period of offspring
Social Organisation in Gorillas
- Mountain gorillas live in small troops of around 10 individuals - with usually 1 silverack (a dominant mature male), a number of adult females and their offspring
- The dominant male protects the group, leads them to search for food and is the only male to mate with mature femals.
- As younger males reach sexal maturity they leave th group to live alone until they are mature enoguh to attract females - younger females will either stay with the same group or join another
Social Behaviours in Gorillas
- Grooming is an important social acitivity - this occurs between all members of the group, reinofrcing relationships between individuals
- Care of young offspring by mothers - during the first 5 months the infant is in constant contact with the mother, suckling at hourly intervals. By 12months, infants will venture as far as 5m from the mother
- The mother protects the young gorilla as it learns the social and other skills necessary to live independently. Learning takes place after the age of two as juveniles play together and intiate the adult behaviors of foraging for food.
- The silverback is important in developemtn of young gorillas from 3-6years, both in terms of protection from older males within the group, and in play as a source of learning new skills
Communication systems: - a variety of calls, displays and grunts are used to: signal danger to other members of the group; issue threats to predators/other troops and in play fight displays as Juveniles learn how to behave as adults. Facial expressions are also important in gorillas and other large primaes, especially in terms of recognition of other members of the group