Apple founder dies, but do primates mourn their leaders?

Posted on October 6, 2011


This morning I woke up and one of the first messages on my blackberry was from a friend Hermes – news that Steve Jobs had died. I’m not iPhone girl, all that finger swiping and touch screen malarkey sends shivers down my OCD spine!!

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

However I was so very sad to hear that Mr Jobs, the Apple founder and former CEO had died aged 56, after a long battle with cancer. A visionary who many say dazzled the world with his genius.

One questioned posed by Hermes was: “Steve Jobs dies, do primates also mourn the loss of great leaders?”

Interesting question. Without going into too much detail. Scientists have found that primates have very complex, diverse and fluid social grouping dynamics, something that sets them apart from other mammals. Social systems can range from monogamous pairs; harems; fission/fussion communities; multi-male troops to territorial families. Some primate groups (there are always exceptions) live in hierarchies so the loss of a so-called leader happens more frequently that you’d think. It may not be through death, but when an Alpha is over thrown, group dynamics adjust accordingly and life moves on.

Grief is a whole other issue in the non-human primate world and raises the question of whether  consciousness and emotion exists. A  highly controversial topic as it is very difficult to gauge without erring towards anthropomorphic tendencies.

Our closest relatives appear to be far better equipped to move on and handle change far better than we do, a trait that’s clearly served them well in evolutionary history.

But let’s for a moment dwell on Steve Jobs’ passing (because we can) and remember a great man who did much for our technological evolution.

Posted in: A tribute