Christmas Books: 2
Chimpanzee Politics by Frans de Waal is based on a close study, over a period of years, of a chimp colony. The chimps come across as more like dumb people than smart animals. My favorite anecdote:
While the chimps were in their indoor habitat, the experimenters buried some grapefruit in a patch of sand in their outdoor habitat. The chimps saw the experimenters go by with the grapefruit, so knew something was up.
When released outdoors, they made an apparently unsuccessful search for the grapefruit. Then it was naptime. When the rest of the chimps were asleep, one of the low status males got up, went straight to the buried graperfuit, dug them up and ate them. To me, at least, that is striking evidence not only of rational behavior but of rational thought behind the behavior.
The other interesting observation was reflected in the title. The dominant male might or might not be the biggest and strongest—because the political struggle that determined dominance involved an elaborate pattern of shifting alliances.