A 2011 favourite.

Fig 2 of “Stepwise evolution of stable sociality in primates”: Susanne Shultz, Christopher Opie & Quentin D. Atkinson. Nature. Nov 10. 470:219.2011.

Arrows represent allowable transitions between modes of social living under each model. Under the complexity and parameter-rich model, transition rates represented by each arrow can vary. Under the equal rates model, all rates are fixed to a single optimized rate parameter. The reversible-jump-derived model is a significantly better fit to the data than the alternative models.

At the NYT, Dec 19,  Wade wrote:

“The scientists, at the University of Oxford in England, looked at the evolutionary family tree of 217 primate species whose social organization is known. Their findings, published in the journal Nature, challenge some of the leading theories of social behavior, including:

¶ That social structure is shaped by environment — for instance, a species whose food is widely dispersed may need to live in large groups.

¶ That complex societies evolve step by step from simple ones.

¶ And the so-called social brain hypothesis: that intelligence and brain volume increase with group size because individuals must manage more social relationships.

By contrast, the new survey emphasizes the major role of genetics in shaping sociality. Being rooted in genetics, social structure is hard to change, and a species has to operate with whatever social structure it inherits.”


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