Submissive Behaviors in Old World Monkeys

Submissive and aggressive behaviors are important in primate social structure. The dominance hierarchies that emerge help the group keep peace, order and cooperation. Rank is determined not by who acts aggressive, but by who submits. Dominant behaviors tend to get most of the attention in the scientific community because of the flashy behaviors compared to the much more subtle submissive acts. This website attempts to link submissive behaviors together over different species of Old World Monkeys.

In primate social groups, there is likely to be conflict, with one individual behaving agressively towards yellow baboon another. Submission is the act of yielding to a more powerful individual. Some submissive behaviors include: screaming or squeaking with teeth bared, teeth-chattering, bared teeth, lip-smacking, grunting or chortling, clasping, branch-shaking, presentation, and avoidance (1). In most species, status heirarchies play a role in the social organization of the band. An individual is considered subordinate to another if it shows submission in more than half of their conflicts. Submission is a better indicator of rank in the status heirarchy than agression (1).

This website will discuss the ontogeny, phylogeny, mechanism, and adaptive value of submissive behaviors and status heirarchies in Old World monkeys.

Yellow baboon; image from Primate Info Net