The macaques are the most geographically widespread and behaviourally diver
se primate genus. Many of the diversified features of social behaviour and
organization in this genus have been attributed to socio-ecological differe
nces. However, some core aspects of social behaviour and organization appea
r to be highly conservative, suggesting a high degree of phylogenetic inert
ia. A recently derived classification of macaque social organization, as we
ll as a large range of social and physical traits, were analysed for 16 spe
cies to ascertain the role of phylogeny in explaining the distribution of t
hese traits within the genus Macaca. These traits were mapped onto two alte
rnative phylogenies. The pattern of social organization, based on the degre
e of asymmetry in social relations, exhibited a high and significant level
of phylogenetic inertia, as did seven of the 22 individual traits compared.
A profile constructed of the most likely ancestral state for this characte
r matrix showed that it most closely resembles the pattern present in the B
arbary macaque (M. sylvanus), which, based on both molecular and morphologi
cal data, most closely resembles the ancestral macaque.