Macachiavellian IntelligenceHow Rhesus Macaques and Humans Have Conquered the World

Macachiavellian IntelligenceHow Rhesus Macaques and Humans Have Conquered the World

Dario Maestripieri

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226501178

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Judged by population size and distribution, homo sapiens are clearly the most successful primates. A close second, however, would be rhesus macaques, who have adapted to—and thrived in—such diverse environments as mountain forests, dry grasslands, and urban sprawl. Scientists have spent countless hours studying these opportunistic monkeys, but rhesus macaques have long been overshadowed in the public eye by the great apes, who, because of their greater intelligence, are naturally assumed to have more to teach us, both about other primates and about humans as well. This book shelves that misperception and gives rhesus macaques their turn in the spotlight. The product of more than twenty years studying these fascinating creatures, it caricatures a society that is as much human as monkey, with hierarchies and power struggles that would impress Niccolò Machiavelli himself. High-status macaques, for instance, maintain their rank through deft uses of violence and manipulation, while altruism is almost unknown and relationships are perpetually subject to the cruel laws of the market. Throughout this account, the author weds his knowledge of macaque behavior to his abiding fascination with human society and motivations. The result is a book that draws on economics as much as evolutionary biology, politics as much as primatology. Rife with unexpected connections and peppered with anecdotes, the book has as much to teach us about humans as it does about macaques.