The formal hierarchy of rhesus macaques: An investigation of the bared-teeth display

Authors

  • Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal,

    Corresponding author
    1. Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison
    • Address reprint requests to Dr. Frans B.M. de Waal, Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, 1223 Capitol Court, Madison, WI 53715-1299
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  • Lesleigh M. Luttrell

    1. Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison
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Abstract

Teeth-baring in a large captive rhesus monkey group (Macaca mulatta) was observed over a 30-month period. Its directional consistency among adults was significantly higher than that of aggression. The unidirectionality was so extreme that the facial display must be seen as a formal status indicator; ie, a signal of which the direction is independent of short-term contextual variation. As such, it seems adapted for communication about the state of the relationship. Formal dominance relationships among adults could be arranged in a hierarchy which approached perfect linearity. Focal observations demonstrated that teeth-baring was associated with withdrawal. It was uncommon among foraging monkeys, perhaps because dominant animals paid less attention to their subordinates in this context. The speed of rank acquisition by young females, in terms of received teeth-baring, was highest among peers and lowest against the group's old matriarchs. The age at which dominance over unrelated adult females was achieved correlated negatively with the amount of affiliative contact with these females. This translates into a positive correlation between bonding and rank establishment, indicating that dominance processes may be indistinguishable from social integration.

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