Monday, June 23, 2008

Clever monkeys

Interesting primate news: the long-tailed macaque (aka crab-eating macaque) has been observed fishing on three occasions in three different troops at two different sites in Indonesia. While fishing has been documented in other primates (although its incidence is extremely low), this is the first time long-tailed macaques have been observed fishing. Stewart et. al. describe one of the incidents as follows:
Five females sat on rocks in one of the pools and seemed to be scanning the water. The rest of the group was in the forest, in trees and on the ground. After 3 min, 1 female with a small infant clinging to her bent closer to the water and grasped a fish. She used both hands and quickly ingested it. The fish was ca. 15 cm long, and she chewed it for 2 min before swallowing it completely. While eating the fish, she remained seated on the rock whence she caught it. The fish tail hung out of her mouth for a short time, and the infant tried unsuccessfully to grasp it. The 4 other females watched her while she ate the fish, but soon returned to staring at the water. At 1055 h, a different female reached for the water but caught nothing. It was not possible to see whether she tried to grasp a fish or something else.
(Via The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe episode #152).

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