From: University of California - Los Angeles
Published August 24, 2017 09:32 AM

UCLA research reveals how new behaviors appear and spread among capuchin monkeys

One white-faced capuchin monkey sticks its fingers deep into the eye sockets of another capuchin it’s friends with. A capuchin uses her ally’s body parts to whack their common enemy. These behaviors become entrenched in the repertoires of the inventors. But in the first case, the behavior spreads to other group members, and in the second case it does not.

What makes capuchins invent new behaviors, and what causes some behaviors, but not others, to persist and be adopted by other monkeys?

study led by UCLA professor of anthropology Susan Perry reveals that older, sociable capuchins are prone to inventing more new types of social behaviors, many of which seem to function either as tests of friendship or displays against enemies. Other behaviors the researchers observed involved games, new ways to interact with infants and novel forms of sexual interaction.

“Capuchins have intricate societal structures, long-term, kin-based relations in both sexes and a rich behavioral repertoire, making them an intriguing subject of scientific observation,” Perry said. “Learning about the minutiae of other, nonhuman primate societies reminds us that we are not the only species on this planet that has emotions, personalities, friends, enemies, politics, culture and social drama.”

Read more at University of California - Los Angeles

Photo credit: Steven G. Johnson via Wikimedia Commons

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