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Habitual group activities are prevalent across many animal species, particularly in mammals, especially in primates.

However, I do not see any evolutionary benefit of this. 'Ceremonies' take time, and in many cases seem to exert more energy than they reap. Note at this point I am not talking about hunting groups, but rather about group activities that serve a purely social purpose (mourning is a good example of this and is present in elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos, and probably more). This costs significant amounts of resources, time, and energy which apparently could be better spent hunting, foraging, traveling, mating, or grazing.

I'm interested in finding a timeline, and explanation, of why and how this phenomenon of higher social rituals (perhaps using mourning as an example) evolved throughout the mammalian kingdom.

A cursory google revealed nothing about how this 'liking' of interaction evolved.

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closed as off-topic by AliceD, kmm, The Last Word, March Ho, rg255 Aug 18 '15 at 19:11

  • This question does not appear to be about biology within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is an anthropological question. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Aug 17 '15 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ We'll need an accurate definition of rituals in order to answer this question. For the moment it is too broad. Do you restrict rituals to social traditions? Do you include personal habits and obsessive behaviour in rituals? You posted several links (without much explanation), you should probably report what you read so far, that would help. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Aug 18 '15 at 0:43
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    $\begingroup$ Questions about the evolution of human behaviour are on-topic to my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Aug 18 '15 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD The question is about evolution, and as far as I know, evolution falls firmly within the realm of biology. Perhaps it would be better on a anthropology Stack Exchange, but one does not exist. $\endgroup$ – Kelmikra Aug 18 '15 at 3:33
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you the question is much improved this way, I retracted my close vote. Note however, that the question is not so much about evolutionary genetics but fall within the field of "evolution of traditions/culture", or more broadly speaking "evolution of memes" also called "memetics", which is a field that has been created by biologists but in its current state is in between biology, sociology and philosophy. I think the question is on-topic but will appreciate to see what the others say. Might be a bit broad also...we'll see. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Aug 18 '15 at 4:07
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Perhaps customs (and culture as a whole) arises to some extent as a result of relationships between individuals of the same species. For example, I think a good example of a custom is how elephants bury their dead. This does not benefit the surviving elephants in any noticeable way, and is a "waste" of energy and time. If customs do arise because of a group dynamic, then there is clear evidence supporting that social behavior in higher organisms (chimpanzees, dolphins, etc.) does increase fitness.

However, this speculation is based upon the idea that customs are a natural result of social interaction. As to why these customs arise, perhaps it is because it enforces the group dynamic over the participating individuals.

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