Friday, January 16, 2009

just like momma macaque

From ScienceDaily: Primate Culture Is Just a Stone's Throw Away From Human Evolution, Study Finds

I like it when animals are smarter than we think they are. Elephants self-recognizing, birds remembering if they've been spied stashing food, monkeys and apes using tools. And I think at least some animals feel. Maybe their emotions aren't as deep or varied as humans, but my cat gets jealous and feels content, and my dog gets lonely and becomes pleased.

According to this articles, scientists have been observing Japanese macaques for three decades. These monkeys... well, the article calls it "stone-handling," but considering it specifically describes them as "rubbing and clacking stones together, pounding them onto hard surfaces, picking them up, and cuddling, carrying, pushing, rolling and throwing them," I would just call it playing. And interestingly enough, researchers at the Primate Research Institute have found that mother macaques who play with stones more have children that spend more time with them, presumably because "the mothers' frequent stone-handling caught the infants' attention, and as a result, the infants acquired the behavior more quickly than other infants."

How cute. Baby monkeys want to be just like their parents.

Though I've read that a child's fascination for what adults and especially its parents are doing is coded in. Maybe that's why toy versions of adult equipment, like play stoves, are so popular. Pretty interesting stuff.

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