Reuters - Video

Edition: US | UK | IN | CN | JP

video Most Popular

Capuchin monkeys more than just a pretty face

Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 03:07

Oct. 31 - After 20 years of study, scientists say the Capuchin monkeys in Argentina's Atlantic Forest are more sophisticated than previously thought and despite their small size, could tell us a lot about the origin of human intelligence. Tara Cleary reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

A dominant male capuchin monkey stealthily grabs the first fruit of the morning. While lower ranking members of his group are forced to risk a trip to the dangerous forest floor for their fruit. The bananas were placed on the platform by researchers as part of a study, designed by Brazilian doctorate student Anand Dacier. The experiment comprises several observation platforms erected in the treetops of Argentina's Atlantic Forest. The scientists hope to discover which of the platforms the monkeys will choose to go to first. Dacier says the aim is to find out more about how the species handles conflict resolution. SOUNDBITE: BRAZILIAN BIOLOGY STUDENT, ANAND DACIER, SAYING (Spanish): "The idea is that the dominant members of the group - the alpha male or the dominant female - will prefer to go to the site where they can control the resources more because they will be able to eat more, while the subordinates will always want to go to the site where the resources are more dispersed so they can be in one platform while the dominant members are on another. So how they resolve that conflict and who "wins" - in a metaphorical sense - is the point of the experiment." Bordering Brazil and Paraguay and close to the Iguaza Falls, the forest provides researchers an ideal spot to study the diminutive primates. Capuchin monkeys are part of a group called New World Monkeys, which also includes tamarins and squirrel monkeys, and which was long thought to be too far removed from human evolution to be of much scientific interest. But Dacier and her colleagues say they're proving the old assumptions to be incorrect. These capuchin monkeys have been studied for 20 years, and scientists like Maria Celia Baldovino at the Atlantic Forest Investigations Center, say the lengthy research reveals exciting detail about the capuchin's complex society. SOUNDBITE: ATLANTIC FOREST INVESTIGATIONS CENTER BIOLOGIST, MARIA CELIA BALDOVINO, SAYING (Spanish): "What most fascinates me most about this species is that they have a complex social organization, because they have very long lives, and that means they develop very strong bonds between different individuals - especially between the females, who spend their whole lives in the same group they were born into and females can live up to 40 years old. There are some females who were present when we started the project and they are still there. So their social organization is very complex and is comparable to what has been studied in Old World monkeys." The capuchins have been recorded using tools and shown to retain memories of their immediate environment, much like like gorillas and chimpanzees. Twenty years has revealed much about the tiny capuchin, but the scientists say they've only just scratched the surface of primate behaviour. Tara Cleary, Reuters.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Capuchin monkeys more than just a pretty face

Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 03:07