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What's It Like to Be a Monkey?
Credit: Gerianne Alexander.

As a female vervet monkey, you are born into a close-knit community of other females. Together you form the stable core of your colony. You will likely remain here for your entire life, developing a social ranking largely determined by your mating habits.

At 4 or 5 you reach sexual maturity. Males reach adult size at 6, when they leave the group for a neighboring community where they can establish a social ranking and spawn children.

Much of your behavior (and that of your neighbors) is explained by human psychologists in terms of kinship, dominance rank, sexual attraction and group defense. But it can be difficult for scientists to separate your behavior from their knowledge bias rooted in human society.

It is also uncertain to humans whether you have any understanding of those relationships of kinship and dominance, or whether you merely react to the chemical impulses that have evolved within your species as a successful method for promoting genes. Perhaps you often wonder the same thing about humans.

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