The present paper is intended to discuss the similarities between the social behaviors of baboons and humans according to the book “Almost Human” by Shirley Strum. The first manifestation of social behavior Shirley Strum noticed is threat signals the animals convey when a newcomer appears (Strum, 1987, p. 24). Furthermore, as the newcomer approaches, juveniles and adult females circle around him and carefully examine him. The animals introduce themselves in an interesting way: “A female “presents” to a male when she approaches and turns her bottom toward his face; then the male will generally sniff her to see if she is sexually receptive.
Two males can also present to each other with no sexual intention at all, and the same greeting is frequently exchanged by females, juveniles and even babies when they can manage it. ” (Strum, 1987, p. 25). In several days upon the arrival of the newcomer, he remains an outcast, yet the other tribe members keep their eyes on each movement he makes. When a female comes closely to a male, the latter narrows his eyes, shakes head and smacks his lips – this physical manifestation is quite common among baboons.
However, if the male is not considered “popular” in the group of animals, the female might simply flee without introducing herself, – then male continues grimacing as described above and accompanies the grim with soft grunting. The couple play this game for quite a long time – the female approaches and then quickly distracts and escapes, whereas the male continues to exhibit his “infatuation”. Such social “games” are played between men and women in our society. For instance, when a woman presents herself to a man, she smiles and shakes hands with him.
They also verbally exchange their introductory information – name, occupation, hobbies. At the same time, the man, who considers marriage or searches for a sex partner, processes the information about the woman’s appearance and . If he is attracted to the woman, he begins to make slight hints and social gestures – e. g. , he might distinguish her amongst his friends and become more sincere, invite her to a theatre, cinema or dinner, give her gifts and flowers and so forth. However, if the woman notices the man has low social position or does not meet her social requirements, she is likely to lose interest in his “candidacy”.
However, if the man persists and manages to present his interest as genuine and stable, the intimate relationship might begin. Human and baboon behaviors in cross-gender relationships are quite similar. Primarily, baboons present themselves to one another in order to learn more about a stranger; similarly, humans introduce themselves both verbally and through smiling, shaking hands. This introductory stage allows gathering the basic information and determining the primary sources of threat in the “interlocutor” (e. g. , contagious disease, among humans – armor etc).
Among humans, smile acts as a sign of the person’s peaceful intentions, as humans are less proficient in the use and understanding of body language. Further, as a female baboon approaches the male and gives him an opportunity to inhale her odor, she shows to him that she is sexually mature and can have intimate contact. Moreover, such close introduction allows the male to examine her appearance, or “beauty” – this factor is extremely important, given that “beauty” in primate groups is associated with physical health and fitness.
The healthier the female is the stronger progeny she can bear and the fewer problems with bearing and birth she will experience. Similarly, human males assess the female during the first seconds of encounter, – in particular, they pay attention to such criteria as age, physical beauty and erudition, as they half-consciously select (not always intentionally) a potential sexual partner or spouse and subconsciously believe younger (to reasonable degree, but generally younger in comparison to the male), smarter and more gorgeous women are fitter and better prepared for life in this society.
Female baboons show their bottoms when they seek to lure a male, perhaps because appropriate building of this body part serves as a proof of the female’s sexual maturity and health. Human females, who wish to look “attractive”, also demonstrate their bodies, not necessarily naked, but always underlined by stylish clothes, make-up and accessories. After evaluating the female and determining whether she fits his criteria of physical development and appearance, the male baboon himself seeks to attract the female by displaying his interest and showing his own fitness and strength.
Similarly to the primate society, among humans, there is also a behavioral pattern which consists in male’s responsibility for making the first step towards a stable relationship (e. g. inviting the woman he is infatuated with to a dinner, entertaining her, paying a lot of attention to her personality). If the female baboon realizes that male is outcast, she will continue ignoring him for some time, as the fittest males, whose inheritance will be most favorable to the future progeny in terms of survival, are normally popular in the tribe and have a high degree of authority.
Furthermore, popular member of the tribe is more capable of providing for his female when she is consumed by “childcare”. Like female baboons, women become quite suspicious when meeting social outcasts or men of lower social status, who are potentially less likely to meet the needs of the family after the baby appears. However, in both societies, if the male manages to prove his dependability and keeps attending to the female for a long time, the latter might change her mind and find him eligible. As one can assume, human social behavior in cross-gender relationships is driven largely by instincts exhibited by primates.
The factors humans and primates consider when selecting a sexual partner are in many cases the same, as males of both groups first and foremost evaluate physical fitness, whereas females in both baboon and human societies make a more complex analysis and also look at the male’s social position envisioning the necessity of taking care of defenseless and dependent progeny (or children). Both humans and animals are greatly concerned about the physical characteristics of the next generation, which partially backs Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest and the inborn striving for the survival of the species.