The Japanese Macaques Social Hierarchy

Today we are going to talk to you about a subject which you may, on the first hand, find funny or useless, but which got us curious: the social organization of the Snow Monkey, also known as Japanese Macaque (Macaca Fuscata). These macaques are found in Japan, particularly in mountainous regions, although they can also be found in some lowlands. They live in a climate that can vary from -15ºC to 25ºC, being the non-human primates that live farther north. Besides a vast amount of fur, that maintains them warm when the snows come, these macaques are known for having a facial expression which is very “human-like”, despite becoming increasingly red as they grow up.

What is more interesting, is that their societies are very “human-like” as well. They go around in bands that can vary in size, where females usually remain with their groups since their birth, while males when growing up tend to find a new group. Their social structure is mostly matrilineal, with females being at the center of the group. The macaques have an extremely hierarchical society, but this can change according to regions. Indeed, it seems that in areas where there is enough food and no external threats, there are no leaders, while in northern regions, male and females have more equal roles inside of the group. When there are leaders, they can be male or female, and they are responsible for the routine of the group.

Most interestingly, there are different families inside the bands, some more dominant than others. It even happens that amongst a group, those that are not dominant are not allowed to enter the pools of hot water that exist in snowy regions. It is common for groups to split up between dominant and less powerful families, which is something that could be compared to human behavior.

Read more about these interesting animals here or check out this interesting video by BBC Nature!


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