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Summary Paper Machiavellian Monkeys The sneaky skills of our primate cousins suggest that we may owe our great intelligence to an inherited need to deceive Machiavellian Monkeys James Shreeve Discover June 1991 Fraud Deception Infidelity Theft When these words are spoken or read the first thought is of human traits Not once would someone think of animals as being capable of such actions but people forget that humans are animals and that the human animal evolved from a creature that had common ancestry with the great apes Is it surprising then that these seemingly humanistic traits are found in primates James Shreeve discusses the findings of hundreds of primatologists which support the notion of Machiavellian intelligence in primates He studied Machiavellian Intelligence in baboons chimps lemurs and lorises and concluded that social primates exhibit this intelligence and those that live in small groups or in solitude do not First lets examine the term Machiavellian The dictionary definition is characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning deception expediency or dishonesty By suggesting Machiavellian intelligence Shreeve implies that these types of behaviour are not simply conditioned responses to stimuli but conscious thought This might not be blatantly obvious as important to physical anthropology but it does suggest a number of important ideas as to the development of man Lesser primates such as lemurs and lorises do not exhibit any type of deceptive traits but when more advanced primates are examined it can be seen that as the size of the brain increases there are increasingly more complicated tactics used to deceive others of their own species It is interesting to note that humans have brains roughly three times larger than would be expected and also exhibit the most complex Machiavellian behaviours An important observation that Shreeve points out is that primates such as the orang-utan who lead solitary lives and have no need for social skills do not exhibit
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