Monkeys hug and kiss on meeting. Looks like our behavioural origins.

The video is cute. They look like mini humans hugging and on one occasion passionately kissing each other. It is hard to ignore the conclusion that the origins of the human hug and kiss as a greeting behaviour is here in our ancestral cousins, the monkeys (primates). However, we are not descended from monkeys. We share a common ancestor with the chimpanzee, and they are not monkeys. Notwithstanding the fact that in looking at the video we are not looking at our ancestors, there is a great similarity in greeting behaviour. Is there a common greeting behaviour across the primate species? And did the human kiss originate in that common ancestor pre-primate behaviour? It looks like it does to me ✔️👌.

Monkey and humans are primates and we share greeting behaviors
Monkey and humans are primates, and we share greeting behaviours. Image: MikeB based on Pixabay image and image in the public domain.

Monkeys, lemurs and apes are our cousins. Primates as a group, contains all lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans. The hug and kiss provide a deep connection between two primates. It is a sort of merging of the two (particularly with the kiss in which saliva and breath are merged). It reminds me of feline ‘scent exchange’ when cats rub against each other and their human caregiver. That, too, is a reassuring merging of a part of two individuals.

An article on the Live Science website refers to a study which revealed that chimps and bonobos have a hello and goodbye form of communication. They use signals when entering and exiting social encounters. They politely greet each other and bid farewell. It’s exactly like humans. The report states: “Our findings show that two species of great apes habitually go through the same process and stages as humans when establishing, executing and terminating joint actions”.

I am thinking again of the video on this page. The monkeys are not even providing signals they are actually hugging and in one case kissing each other, a physical activity. A bonding activity. The researchers refer to signals of greeting and saying goodbye as a “joint commitment” based upon an obligation that they feel towards each other.

I think that’s a good observation. When these monkeys hug and when one of them kisses another, they are committing to an obligation with each other to support one another. It obviously helps to bind the group and make it stronger. This aids in survival which is perhaps the fundamental driving force for this form of behaviour in monkeys and in humans.


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Post Category: Humans > behaviour