Neocortex Size, Social Skills and Mating Success in Primates

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 Department of Anthropology, University of Wrodaw, ul. Kuźnicza 35, 50-138 Wrodaw, Poland
  • 2 ESRC Research Centre in Economic Learning and Social Evolution, School of Biological Sciences, Nicholson Building, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, UK
  • 3 ESRC Research Centre in Economic Learning and Social Evolution, School of Biological Sciences, Nicholson Building, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, UK;, Email: RIMD@Liverpool.ac.uk

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Abstract

The social brain hypothesis predicts that species with relatively larger neocortices should exhibit more complex social strategies than those with smaller neocortices. We test this prediction using data on the correlation between male rank and mating success for polygamous primates. This correlation is negatively related to neocortex size, as would be predicted if males of species with large neocortices are more effective at exploiting social opportunities to undermine the dominant male's power-based monopolisation of peri-ovulatory females than are those with smaller neocortices. This effect is shown to be independent of the influence of male cohort size.

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