A large part of primate behaviour is learned rather than innate. Behavior is extremely complex, especially in mammals. Despite the diversity in behavioral patterns of primates primatologists like Jane Goodall (Chimapnzee), Dolhinow (Langur), George Schaller (Mountain Gorilla), C.R.Carpenter(Gibbon and Howler monkey) identified the following primate behaviours:
- Group Living: Most non-human primates live in social groups, for benefits like defense against predators, enhanced food gathering, intensive social learning, assistance in rearing offspring and increased reproductive opportunities. ex: Baboons live within troops for entire life, social unit of chimpanzees is ever-changing.For primates particularly those that are diurnal, group life may be crucial to survival.
- Communication : through body movement, vocalizations, olfactory signals and facial gestures. Physical aggression ranges from simple gestures to violence. Primates also use a variety of behaviors to indicate submission, reassurance, or amicable intentions. Most primates crouch to show submission, and baboons also present or turn their hindquarters toward an animal they want to appease. Reassurance takes the form of touching, patting, hugging, and holding hands. Grooming also serves in a number of situations to indicate submission or reassurance. A wide variety of facial expressions indicating emotional state is seen in chimpanzees and especially in bonobos.
- Dominance-hierarchy and Dominance submission: ranking of primates in social status determined by physical strength, age, aggression and ability to attract others. dominance submission is the result of dominance hierarchy. Through early contact with their mothers and subsequent exposure to peers, young primates learn to negotiate their way through the complex web of social interactions that makes up their daily lives. For ex in Chimpanzees, if two males go after same fruit the subordinate holds back.
- Dependency and Development: the prolonged dependency of infant monkeys and apes offers an evolutionary advantage by allowing infants more time to observe and learn the complex behaviors essential to survival.
- Training and Learning: Primates often learn many things in social groups. for ex Method of feeding among chimpanzees:Termite fishing using a grass stalk to withdraw termites from a termite mound.
- Sexual behavior: It varies among primates. Gibbons are monogamous, Chimpanzees are promiscuous.
- Social behavior :
- primates are highly social animals – most of their waking hours are spent socializing with each other.
- Grooming is a very pleasurable activity for primates, including humans – cleaning and psychological satisfaction
- Primates are generally lively, clever, and very successful at adapting to different environmental opportunities.
- Almost all primates are gregarious except the nocturnal species
- Affiliative behavior : There are many affiliative behaviors that reinforce bonds between individuals, promote group cohesion, minimize actual violence, and defuse potentially dangerous situations. Common affiliative behaviors include reconciliation, consolation, and simple amicable interactions between friends and relatives. Most such behaviors involve various forms of physical contact such as touching, hand holding, hugging, and grooming. Grooming involves using the fingers to pick through the fur of another individual (or one’s own) to remove insects, dirt, and other materials, it serves hygienic functions. eg. chimpanzees.
Thus most of the behavior patterns are learned and show a great diversity within the group and between groups of primates.