Re-evaluating primate monogamy

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Researchers propose hypotheses for the occurrence of monogamy as a social system in primates based on the assumption that there are a group of primates, including humans, which live exclusively in "nuclear families" and share a similar set of social behaviors. Examining the primates purported to be "monogamous" reveals that they cover a wide range of grouping types, mating patterns, taxonomic groups, and evolutionary grades. While there are a few primate species that do live in small, two-adult groups and share a similar set of social behaviors, the vast majority of the supposed "monogamous" primates, including humans, do not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-907
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Evolution
  • Monogamy
  • Social systems
  • Variability in social organization


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