So, having gotten some feedback to an earlier question I had regarding the societal structure of herd animals, I realised the preceding question was somewhat too broad, so I've decided to make things a bit more constrained.

I'm currently developing an alien species. Although sapient, considering their evolutionary history, I've decided to place them as essentially in an equivalent ecological niche to elephants. With this in mind, my question is -

If elephants were to develop sapience, what would their societal structure likely be?

Would societies be exclusively matriarchal? Would there be gender segregation?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you try to make this question less opinion based? Humans, just to mention one sapient species, have both matriarchal and patriarchal societies... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Sep 19 '18 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ Reminds me of the creatures in Footfall (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Footfall) and possibly Pierson's Puppeteers (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierson%27s_Puppeteers) for technological society for herd animals. $\endgroup$ – GretchenV Sep 19 '18 at 11:11
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    $\begingroup$ Please see this meta question: worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4868/809 — I voted to close as too broad. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Sep 19 '18 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ Are we talking about african elephants or european ones? This will impact on their ability to carry coconuts. $\endgroup$ – Renan Sep 19 '18 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ I can't vote to reopen this question. Asking us to describe an entire societal structure is obviously too broad. Remember the book rule: if your question could be reasonably answered with an entire book, it's too broad. Please review our meta post about High Concept Questions and [open-ended questions). $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 19 '18 at 23:02

Consider some drivers towards society and sapience.

1: Problems exist in the environment; successfully solving them improves genetic fitness.

2: Dependent immatures must be watched and cared for; their presence produces recurring problems as #1 and also encourages a collective society to share provision of care.

We have now the circumstance of many intelligent species: primates of different sorts, elephants, whales, crows, lions. Males sometimes live with the females and young (crows, primates), or there may just be one male (primates, lions) or the males live separately (whales, elephants). If there is one male it is because that one has won reproductive rights from his conspecifics. If males all live elsewhere it is probably to ease ecologic feeding pressure so the big males do not eat all the food and have the immatures starve.

An interesting premise for your world: the males live separately, and intelligence is part of the female phenotype. Intelligence does not help the males much - they do not have to worry about and protect the young, and they have such mastery over their environment that it poses few problems to solve. But the females need to be smart to keep the immatures alive and well, and so females and immatures comprise civilized society. The males are unpredictable and of limited intelligence - although they share a genome with the females and some males might be intelligent to some degree.

That setup will be interesting and the premise of large, semi-sapient males in the unknown wilderness can be tapped to give your narrative energy.


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