Social animal

Social animal

A social animal is a loosely defined term for an organism that is highly interactive with other members of its species to the point of having a recognizable and distinct society.All mammals (and birds) are social to the extent that mothers and offspring bond. The term "social animal" is usually only applied when there is a level of social organization that goes beyond this, with permanent groups of adults living together, and relationships between individuals that endure from one encounter to another.

Animal social behaviour and organisation is studied in comparative psychology, ethology, sociobiology, behavioural ecology and computer science (artificial intelligence). Typical issues in social behaviour are:

* What is the typical size of the group? What factors limit group size? What factors lead to groups merging or splitting?
* Does the species show territoriality? If so, to what extent? If territories are maintained, what is their purpose? Are they held by an individual or a group?
* Are there permanent social dominance relationships within the group? Is there any pattern within them?

A few species, notably insects of the orders "Hymenoptera" (ants, bees and wasps) and "Isoptera" (termites) show an extreme form of sociality, involving highly organized societies, with individual organisms specialized for distinct roles. This form of social behaviour is referred to as eusociality. Some vertebrates, most notably the Naked Mole Rat, are also eusocial

Some animals whose social behaviour is of particular interest:

* Humans ("Homo sapiens")
* Gorillas ("Gorilla gorilla")
* Dogs ("Canis familiaris" or "Canis lupus familiaris")
* Wolves ("Canis lupus")
* Chimpanzees ("Pan troglodytes")
* Dolphins ("Delphinidae")
* Lions ("Panthera leo")
* Bonobos ("Pan paniscus")
* Meerkats ("Suricata suricatta")
* Hyenas

See also


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