Even when, according to a certain cinematic barometer, monkeys supplant people as the world champions of frontal-lobe evolution, you can almost certainly bet that they'll stubbornly insist on maintaining a prehensile grip on the patriarchy. New research shows that male primates whose fathers are strong leaders can expect to inherit leadership positions, a process of primogeniture that effectively bars most female primates from donning the monkey crown and belting "I Wanna Be Like You."
According to UPI, primatologist Susan Perry from UCLA found, after 22 years of studying white-face capuchin monkeys with her husband, that male monkeys will also take on unrelated younger male proteges. Young female monkeys, lacking the proper mentoring from the community, often get shut out of these leadership positions as a result of what the UPI likens to "an old boys club." "Offspring," explains Perry, "especially male offspring, raised in a group in which their father is the alpha male, throughout their juvenile phase enjoy a host of advantages over less fortunate monkeys."
Perry and her husband, Joseph Manson from the University of Iowa, have studied a group of 444 capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica over the course of a mind-bogglingly long 79,000 hours. They discovered that the capuchins (which constitute most of the organ-grinder class of monkey) formed cooperative groups, consisting of an alpha male and subordinate males, all jockeying for the coveted position of power Game of Thrones-style. Average alpha male reigns lasted about a year, though some lasted as long as 18 years and others as briefly as a single day. All male infants, not just those born into royal families, enjoyed considerable advantages over their sisters, according to Perry, which is just one more reason we all have to be on guard for the monkey-apocalypse by keeping James Franco from becoming a dilettante evolutionary biologist (it could so happen, you guys).
Image via Dan Lee/Shutterstock.