Baboons’ Microbiomes and Behaviors

What do baboons, microbiomes, and social behaviors all have in common? Us.

The way our microbiomes act effect parts of our body, and ultimately affect the behavior of a baboon as well.

Dr. Elizabeth Archie, a professor from the University of Notre Dame, quoted, “Your gut bacteria makes neurotransmitters that bleed and affect your nerves in your gut and actually do affect your brain.” Wait, what?

Baboons and humans look nothing alike, but their behavior couldn’t be more similar. How?

As crazy as it may sound, you heard that right. Dr. Elizabeth Archie is describing what takes place in our bodies almost daily. Your gut reproduces microbiomes in your stomach that eventually affects your brain and how you act and react in social and behavioral situations.

How can this possibly happen in baboons though? Well, since humans are 91% genetically related to baboons, and we typically have similar body processes, we tend to also have similar microbiomes, even though the microbes can very greatly based on where you live and what you eat.

This baby baboon is looking for adventure in his neighborhood, much like humans tend to do.

For example, in humans, our microbiomes can effect the nerves through neurotransmitters and determine your behavior. Since the people in the northern part of the country are around bigger cities and are involved in different jobs, then they are going to naturally become more fast paced based on what their microbiome is used to compared to the more laidback lifestyle of the south.

The same is true for baboons in their social groups. For example, if a specific social circle of baboons lived at higher elevations, such is near Mount Kilimanjaro, then that group will typically become more likely to spend time with each other and “groom each other” more frequently than groups who don’t, according to

Microbiomes of Baboons and Social behavior
An infographic created by Penn student Kaylee Meyers demonstrates why baboons act the way they do.

As crazy as it may sound, our gut controls behavior in both baboons and humans. So, what do we have in common with social behaviors and microbiomes? Baboons.


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