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AFP
July 11, 2019

Just like humans, gorillasform ‘complex societies’

World

AFP
July 11, 2019

PARIS: Gorillas form social bonds in a strikingly similar way to humans, including tiers of old friends and family members, according to a study released Wednesday that may provide insight into how mankind evolved its social behaviour. Gorillas, which in the wild spend most of their time in dense forests making behavioural studies tricky for researchers, are known to form small family units comprised of a dominant male and several females with offspring.

But a new analysis of data collected from years of social exchanges of hundreds of western lowland gorillas suggests the creatures are far more socially complex than previously thought. A team of specialists looked at the frequency and length of each observed interaction between the animals when the gathered in clearing to feed on water plants. They found that in addition to close family, the gorillas formed an “extended family” social tier comprised of 13 individuals on average. There were also wider groups, averaging 39 gorillas, where the animals consistently interacted with one another despite not being related. “An analogy to early human populations might be a tribe or small settlement, like a village,” said Robin Morrison, a biological anthropologist at the University of Cambridge, who led the study. In addition, the team uncovered hints of an even wider social tier, similar to an annual gathering or festivals in human societies, where dozens of gorillas would come together to eat fruit.

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