Primates: From Food to Communication Essays

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Over the course of millions of years, primates’ evolutionary ancestors developed their brains to the point that the brain became the most energy intensive organ in the body. Large brains are very costly investments for an organism, both in terms of percentage of energy consumption, and in terms of the period spent outside the womb in which the organism is unable to defend itself (Cheney & Seyfarth, 2007). Based on evolution scientists know this fact to be true. The only question remaining is: what in the many varied environments of primates led to this overall increase in relative brain and skull sizes? Many scientists argue that only either social or ecological pressures that the worldwide primate population faces led to the eventual…show more content…
Only once an organism has already attained a certain level of sustained basic survival in the world can it begin to flourish and excel in the nuances of its own ecosystem and environment, by adding the comparatively marginal benefits of social groups and societies. If social intelligence arose first, it would almost definitely necessitate circumstances in which many of the social benefits of reproduction were more influential on survival than food. In other words, an environment so completely saturated by food and with such a limited number of natural predators, that the need for ecological intelligence was almost completely eliminated, and that primates would be likely to stumble on to food with only minimal effort or intent. While there is a wealth of information in favor of each of these two hypotheses, it is unlikely that one or the other is solely responsible for the development of primate intelligence. This is largely because social and ecological factors are inextricably linked in many aspects of the lives of primates because most primates live in some sort of social group which acquires food together and lives and interacts together, rather than independently (Fletcher, 2008). Therefore the collection of food in a group setting encompasses both social and ecological factors. It is obvious that it would be advantageous for a primate species living in large social groups to develop elevated social cognitive abilities.
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