- Book Chapter2014Experientially Acquired Knowledge of the Self in a Nonhuman PrimatePages 81-99 in Sangeetha Menon, Anindya Sinha and B V Sreekantan (editors) Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Consciousness and the Self, Springer, India
The pressures of developing and maintaining intricate social relationships may have led to the evolution of enhanced cognitive abilities in many social nonhuman species, particularly primates. Knowledge of the dominance ranks and social relationships of other individuals, for example, is important in evaluating one’s position in the prevailing affiliative and dominance networks within a primate society and could be acquired through direct or perceived experience. Allogrooming supplants among female bonnet macaques usually involve the subordinate female of a grooming dyad retreating at the approach of a third female, dominant to both members of the dyad, although, in a few exceptional cases, the dominant member of the dyad could, instead, retreat. Retreat by the dominant individual was observed to be positively correlated to the social attractiveness of her subordinate companion, indicating that individual females successfully evaluate social relationships among other group females. Logistic regression analysis revealed the probability of retreat of the dominant female to be significantly influenced by her own dominance rank and those of the other two interacting females. Individual macaques thus possess egotistical knowledge of their own positions, relative to those of others, in the social hierarchy and appear to, therefore, abstract and mentally represent their own personal attributes as well as those of other members of the group. The experiential acquisition of such cognitive knowledge of the self raises important questions about the possible mechanisms underlying the nature of this mental representation and the general ability to categorise social information in non-verbalizing animal species such as macaques.
- Book Chapter2014Nature and Culture in the wild: Biological foundations of behavioural traditions in non-human primatesPages 367-389 in R Narasimha and S Menon (editors) Nature and Culture Volume XIV, Part 1, Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture Centre for Studies in Civilizations, New DelhiDownload
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A variety of mechanisms for socially facilitated learning allow animals to acquire information from the behaviour of others, and through their own modified behaviour such information can subsequently be transmitted between individuals within and across generations. Variation in such socially acquired and transmitted behaviours is unlikely to be under direct genetic control since individuals who are closely related genetically can have and pass on very different behaviours; this is also true for cultural traditions that such behaviours may have generated. Behavioural information transfer of this nature thus represents another form of inheritance that operates in many nonhuman species, including primates, in tandem with the more basic genetic system. Most behavioural traditions usually precede genetic adaptations but exert persistent directional selection for genetic variations congruent with the new patterns of behaviour since such traditions lead to the transmission of the same selective regime. Selection for the ability to learn a particular behaviour pattern more efficiently and rapidly may also lead to it becoming dependent on fewer learning trials or none at all – ultimately culminating in a partial or complete incorporation of the trait into the basic genetic inheritance system. This paper reviews principles of culture and its biological foundations, and examines the rôles that behavioural inheritance and socially transmitted cultural traditions play in the structure and dynamics of primate societies, with particular reference to data from long-term field studies on Japanese macaques and from bonnet macaques, a species endemic to peninsular India. Three principal consequences are considered: the appearance of individual behavioural traits leading to the establishment of social traditions, the rôle of stable behavioural traditions in facilitating cultural selection, and the influence of particular behavioural and life-history traits on gene-culture coevolution in nonhuman primates.
- Book Chapter2013Anthropogenic Influences on Macaque Populations and Their Genetic ConsequencesPages 209 to 224 in S. Radhakrisna and A. Sinha (editors) The Macaque Connection: Cooperation and Conflict between Humans and Macaques, Springer, New Delhi.Download
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Human–macaque interactions constitute a complex phenomenon influencing perhaps the biology of the macaque more profoundly than ours. At the population level, humans tend to influence the distribution, demography, immunology and even behaviour of the macaque species they interact with though none of these interactions are ever simple. These works at different levels, interacting, in turn, with other environmental factors and most of these impacts are likely to have genetic consequences over the long term. In this chapter, we reviewed available literature on anthropogenic impacts on macaque populations. We should, however, stress that our current state of knowledge, unfortunately, suffers from a serious lack of insight into such genetic impacts. There is, therefore, a dire need for long-term genetic monitoring programmes to understand the effect of anthropogenic factors on the dispersal and demography of different macaque species.
- Book Chapter2013Bonnet macaque Macaca radiataPages 148-169 in A J T Johnsingh and N Manjrekar (editors) Mammals of South Asia, Volume 1, Universities Press, Hyderabad
- Book Chapter2013Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala (Sinha, Datta, Madhusudan and Mishra 2005)Pages 198-210 in A. J. T. Johnsingh & N. Manjrekar (editors) Mammals of South Asia – Volume 1. Universities Press, Hyderabad, India
- Book Chapter2013The Monkey in the Town’s Commons, Revisited: An Anthropogenic History of the Indian Bonnet MacaquePages 187-208 in S. Radhakrishna et al. (eds.), The Macaque Connection: Cooperation and Conflict between Humans and Macaques, Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects, Springer, New Delhi