Fear of predators forced primates into social group

November 15th, 2011 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 15 (IANS) Fear of predators made our solitary primate ancestors descend from the trees and unite into groups for daytime activity, says a new study.

“It has been commonly assumed that social behaviour became more complex over evolutionary time, moving from individuals living alone to pairs, then harems, and finally into large groups,” says study co-author Quentin Atkinson from The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

“In fact, we found that the first transition in the primate family tree was straight from solitary to group living, and any change to pair or harem social structures occurred later,” says Atkinson, the journal Nature reported.

“One of the main findings was that the transition from solitary living to large groups occurred alongside the change from nocturnal to daytime activity,” adds Atkinson, a university statement said.

The researchers concluded that the protection from predators afforded by group living is what allowed our primate ancestors to begin exploring the world during the daytime.

Humans, together with our closest relatives the chimps, gorillas and orangutans, are classified as living in groups, although gorillas can switch to harems that constitutes of one male and several females.

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