Food Distribution and Reproductive Constraints in the Evolution of Social Structure: Nocturnal Primates and Other Mammals

  • Pierre Charles-Dominique


The enormous amount of research carried out on the sociology of nonhuman primates clearly demonstrates the interest in this group in which we find our roots and a rational explanation for the basis of human behavior. It would thus be logical that the prosimians whose anatomy and physiology conceals a large number of ancestral characteristics (Vallois, 1955; Piveteau, 1958; Le Gros Clark, 1961; Luckett, 1969; Charles-Dominique and Martin, 1970; Martin, 1975, 1979), would attract the attention of primatologists in so far as their study might bring clarity to the most remote origins of the social behavior of our ancestors. The social structures of prosimians have been studied since the 1960s’ demonstrating the importance of olfaction in communication and, in nocturnal species, a social organization based on territorial arrangements and the subtle exchange of chemical signals contained in their urinary markings (Sauer and Sauer, 1963; Charles-Dominique, 1972, 1977a, b; Martin, 1972; Niemitz, 1974, 1984; Doyle, 1975; Bearder and Martin, 1980; Schilling, 1979, 1980; Bearder, 1987). Research on species belonging to different orders of placental mammals reveals a great deal of similarity to nocturnal primates, which suggests a common base in mammalian social organization (Eisenberg and Gould, 1970; Eisenberg and Kleiman, 1972; Kleiman, 1974; Emmons, 1975, 1978; Charles-Dominique, 1978a, b; Feer, 1989).


Mouse Lemur Tree Shrew Urine Mark Vocal Communication Nutritional Resource 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Charles-Dominique
    • 1
  1. 1.URA1183 CNRS, Laboratoire d’Ecologie GénéraleMuséum National d’Histoire NaturelleBrunoyFrance

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