Research into the behaviour of female macaque monkeys shows that ‘girl gangs’ are not just a phenomenon in the human world. When united against a common enemy, such as a female monkey higher up in the social ranks, studies show that subordinate females can achieve a coup and overthrow their leader. With the moral support of other less powerful female macaques, these primates can achieve better social mobility that they would be unable to achieve alone.
The scientists selected rhesus macaques as the test subjects to carry out their experiment on, due to the rigid hierarchies of female power in their society. The team studied 357 adult females in captivity over two-years and observed in the region of 11,000 power conflicts.
When a low-ranked rhesus monkey encounters a more senior monkey, they have to grovel by bearing their teeth. Darcy Hannibal, at the University of California, described this signal as important in communicating social rank, similar to the human equivalent of bowing.
To maintain or increase social rank, females will recruit allies in the form of friends or family. The primary advantage in having additional support is ease when competing with dominant monkeys for resources. The scientists working on the project discovered that lower-ranked monkeys that are older, heavier (by at least 7 kilograms than their opponent), had more followers, or had their mothers amongst those in their support group were more likely to rebel. Interestingly, the number of followers possessed by a dominant monkey did not put off or encourage inferior monkeys to committing acts of insubordination.
Dario Maestripieri at the University of Chicago has suggested that the team’s definition of rebellion may have been too broad and that primate examples of entire families revolting against and killing their chiefs is actually very uncommon.
- Download a History & English Personal Statement “Evidently reading is a major passion and Graham Greene has... Read more >
- Taking a Gap Year There are a number of advantages to taking a gap... Read more >
- TSA Oxford mini mock & answers Thinking is very important to Oxford, so they’ve devised an... Read more >
- Your free E-book… “So You Want To Go To Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana…” If you are applying to Oxford or Cambridge, there are... Read more >
- BMAT overview & tips If you’re applying for Medicine, Biomedical Sciences or Veterinary Medicine you... Read more >
- ELAT overview If you’re applying for English, or its joint schools, you... Read more >
- Social and Political Sciences Reading List We’ve brought together a wide-ranging bibliography to help those applying... Read more >
- Oxford or Cambridge? Many applicants know that they want the best, but when... Read more >
- Geography and Earth Sciences Reading Lists Whether you’re looking at Geography, Earth Sciences (Geology), or Land... Read more >
- The Differences Between Similar Courses At Oxford and Cambridge For some applicants, deciding between applying to Oxford or Cambridge... Read more >
- Choosing a course From Arch and Anth to Veterinary Medicine, the range of... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test overview If you’re applying to read Law at Cambridge you will probably need... Read more >
- LNAT mini mock paper & answers The LNAT, required for those applying for Law at Oxford... Read more >
- Cambridge’s Supplementary Application Questionnaire After you have submitted your UCAS application to apply to... Read more >
- The Architecture of an Education: what are colleges all about? Explaining the difference between Oxford and Cambridge colleges and the... Read more >
- Are my grades good enough for Oxbridge? Grades are an area of much misunderstanding when it comes... Read more >
- What You Need To Know About A Level Reforms The A Level system that has been in place since... Read more >
- Physical, Mathematical & Chemical Sciences Reading Lists If you’re applying for Physics, Natural Sciences (P), Maths, Computer... Read more >
- Course By Course Fact Sheet This helpful guide sets out by course what grades you... Read more >
- LNAT overview If you’re applying for Law at Oxford you will need to sit... Read more >
- Oxford and Cambridge Access Schemes Oxford and Cambridge aim to offer places to the best... Read more >
- Information on choosing a course at Oxford or Cambridge “Perhaps it is because Oxbridge encourages more ‘traditional’ A Level... Read more >
- Download an English Personal Statement “My background as a student at a European School, including... Read more >
- February’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >