Special Reviews

Social Components of Fitness in Primate Groups

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Science  07 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5843, pp. 1347-1351
DOI: 10.1126/science.1140734

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There is much interest in the evolutionary forces that favored the evolution of large brains in the primate order. The social brain hypothesis posits that selection has favored larger brains and more complex cognitive capacities as a means to cope with the challenges of social life. The hypothesis is supported by evidence that shows that group size is linked to various measures of brain size. But it has not been clear how cognitive complexity confers fitness advantages on individuals. Research in the field and laboratory shows that sophisticated social cognition underlies social behavior in primate groups. Moreover, a growing body of evidence suggests that the quality of social relationships has measurable fitness consequences for individuals.

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