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Apes ‘r us desk: Chimpanzee “police”?

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So some say:

Abstract: Because conflicts among social group members are inevitable, their management is crucial for group stability. The rarest and most interesting form of conflict management is policing, i.e., impartial interventions by bystanders, which is of considerable interest due to its potentially moral nature.

Here, we provide descriptive and quantitative data on policing in captive chimpanzees. First, we report on a high rate of policing in one captive group characterized by recently introduced females and a rank reversal between two males. We explored the influence of various factors on the occurrence of policing. The results show that only the alpha and beta males acted as arbitrators using manifold tactics to control conflicts, and that their interventions strongly depended on conflict complexity. Secondly, we compared the policing patterns in three other captive chimpanzee groups. We found that although rare, policing was more prevalent at times of increased social instability, both high-ranking males and females performed policing, and conflicts of all sex-dyad combinations were policed. These results suggest that the primary function of policing is to increase group stability. It may thus reflect prosocial behaviour based upon “community concern.” However, policing remains a rare behaviour and more data are needed to test the generality of this hypothesis.

If policing is a rare behaviour among chimpanzees, it probably doesn’t mean much at all. It is a rare behaviour among dogs and horses too, though it happens. What criminal code gives the chimp police their authority?

One Reply to “Apes ‘r us desk: Chimpanzee “police”?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Reminds me of the infamous typewriter-monkey experiment:

    Monkey Theory Proven Wrong:
    Excerpt: A group of faculty and students in the university’s media program left a computer in the monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo in southwest England, home to six Sulawesi crested macaques. Then, they waited. At first, said researcher Mike Phillips, “the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it. “Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard,” added Phillips, who runs the university’s Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies. Eventually, monkeys Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, composed primarily of the letter S. Later, the letters A, J, L and M crept in — not quite literature.

    it reminds me of this also

    The story of the Monkey Shakespeare Simulator Project

    There once was a noble project meant to recreate a famous hypothetical. Find out how many pages of Shakespeare monkeys actually could come up with in 10^35 pages.

    At this point an infinite number of monkeys, with their typewriters, have shown up in many different hypothetical situations. These brave, repetitive-stress-resistant simians were first called to serve in the early 1900s, in France, where a mathematician suggested that, given enough time, they would peck out every book in the library. They then hopped across the channel, where instead of the Bibliotheque Nationale they got started, at the request of an author, typing out all the books in the British Museum.

    At some point, people realized that this was too high a burden to place on the shoulders of these poor beleaguered monkeys, and so their assignment was shortened to include only the complete works of Shakespeare. Yes, even Timon of Athens, which nobody likes. Monkeys died in the attempt, their little fingers callused and swollen. And at last, they found relief the same place everyone else does; the internet. In 2003, The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator Project started up. Sadly, not even the computers could take the monotony, and the site only lasted a few years – but it did provide some interesting results.

    Starting with 100 virtual monkeys typing, and doubling the population every few days, it put together random strings of characters. It then checked them against the archived works of Shakespeare. Before it was scrapped, the site came up with 10^35 number of pages, all typed up. Any matches?

    Not many. It matched two words, “now faire,” and a partial name from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and three words and a comma, “Let fame, that,” from Love’s Labour’s Lost. The record, achieved suitably randomly at the beginning of the site’s run in 2004, was 23 characters long, including breaks and spaces. The universe was pouring on the irony that day. The line was from Timon of Athens.

    The monkeys typed this:

    Poet. Good day Sir Fhl OiX5a]

    The writer wrote this:

    Poet. Good day Sir

    Pain. I am glad y’are well

    The difference is subtle, but in the context of the greater play, the writer’s line does work better. Perhaps, if a similar website starts up again, the monkeys will best the Bard one day. It’s only a matter of time.

    Via One Hunded Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know.


    George Michael – Monkey

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