Baboons are aping humans in their social interactions, study finds

The animals hang out with those of similar age, rank and personality

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The Independent Online

Baboons prefer to hang out with counterparts of a similar age, rank and even personality type, according to a new study indicating that their social preferences may hold their troops back from sharing information.

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Zoological Society of London studied two troops of chacma baboons and  discovered a strong incidence of homophily, or “love of the same”, which meant younger and bolder animals tended  to avoid much contact with shier ones.

“This happens to human beings all the time; we hang out with people who have the same income, religion, education and so on. Essentially, it’s the same in baboons” said one of the study’s authors, Dr Alecia Carter, of the University of Cambridge.

However, the creatures’ “narrow-mindedness” slows the transfer of new social information – such as new foraging techniques – to the wider troop, meaning it does not benefit the broader community, according to the research, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.