Chapter 1: Creative Primates

Humans are within the branch of anthropoids which leads to hominoids, and more specifically, hominins. We are closely related to gorillas and chimpanzees.

Social Hierarchies Aren’t Hierarchies

Primate hierarchies are not dominant nor static. They are constantly changing. The dominant member of one group may be subordinate in another. Take MI for example. He was a macaque male monkey who was dominant over all the other monkeys in his group because he was extremely aggressive. But one day he broke his leg and other members of the group were able to take over and kick him out! He moved to a new group and took on a subordinate position- he groomed the girls’ hair and played with the young. MI was creative. He was ”living a complex and dynamic social life and coming up with a creative solution when new circumstances demanded it” (20).

What Can Happen in a Soap Opera

Primates are creative! Padangtegal monkeys use rocks as tools, to pound food, and to scratch an itch. Macaque monkeys in Thailand and Burma use stones and shells as tools. Chimpanzees gather in groups at nut trees and use the stones to crack the nuts (for the past 200 years!) and use sticks to crack termite mounds and reach the termites inside. Creativity arises when food is scarce and it also drives social traditions. There is so much creative variation across populations, which demonstrates the creative spark that all primates posses.