When Leaders are Bullies

Dawn Starin in Scientific American:

For years I spent my days, from before dawn until after dusk, following a troop of endangered red colobus monkeys around a small West African forest. For the most part the simian soap opera taking place above my head was based around everyday practical domestic themes like gorging; sleeping; snacking; resting; leaping; and forming and maintaining alliances. But, as with many soap operas, from time to time life here became totally unfocused and utterly confusing. The plots—and there were many—often drifted: sometimes boring, sometimes sitcom, sometimes rom-com, sometimes melodrama, sometimes kill-‘em-dead bloody action and sometimes high scary political drama. The characters, with enough variety to delight any casting director, ranged from gentle to not-so-nice, helpful to nasty, benevolent to downright wicked.

With each passing day spent with these red- and black-haired, potbellied, thumbless, sometimes clumsy acrobats, it became more and more obvious to me that many things happening in this simian population were likely to have strong evolutionary continuity with what happens both with and to us humans. Their behaviors made it increasingly apparent that gaining a better understanding of them helps to understand ourselves.

More here.