One primate has colonized more of Africa than any other. The versatile baboon is at home everywhere from rainforest to mountaintop. Almost anywhere that has food, water, and safe shelter at night is baboon territory, making them the most successful, diverse and widespread monkey around.
Baboon society is a complex web of politics and alliances. Females are the majority, and center of the web. Their place in society is fixed at birth, and almost never changes. Males, on the other hand, live their lives as one long struggle to move up the hierarchy.
Surprisingly, research has recently shown that baboons are capable of altruism. Altruism is usually seen as a uniquely human virtue, but baboons echo human society in number of ways. Socially advanced and sophisticated, adaptable and versatile, devoted to their young, fearless in defense of the group — all of these characteristics shared with their primate cousins, the humans.