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Humans as primates: The social relationships of Efe pygmy men in comparative perspective

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Abstract

The Efe are short-statured specialized hunger-gatherers living in the moist tropical forest in northeast Zaire. They live in small mobile groups averaging 18 individuals and practice viripatrilocal residence — what primatologists refer to as male philopatry and female dispersal. This study uses methods commonly employed by primatologists to study the social relationships of Efe men. It compares their association and affiliation patterns with those of two nonhuman primate species that show male philopatry and female transfer. The analyses of 376 hr of focal behavior observations on 16 Efe men reveal that the majority of their associations were with other adult men. Men associated preferentially with kin over non-kin, and with close kin more than with distant kin. Men's close relationships, or “companionships,”sensu Smuts' (1985) “friendships” among anubis baboons, were predominantly with other adult men; however, each man who cohabited with a woman had his strongestcompanionship by far with that woman. These quantitative measures of affinity are consistent with the Efe's pattern of viripatrilocal residence, where-by males remain in their natal group with their close male kin and females join or are recruited from other patriclans. The social relationships of Efe men are similar in some respects to those of hamadryas and chimpanzees; however, Efe men's social networks are larger and more fluid. We speculate that the explanation proposed for male philopatry and female dispersal among nonhuman primates also applies to the Efe.

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Bailey, R.C., Aunger, R. Humans as primates: The social relationships of Efe pygmy men in comparative perspective. International Journal of Primatology 11, 127–146 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02192785

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