24 November 2008

Chatting Macaques

Reading an online International Newspaper, I found this light-hearted, amusing article about the macaque monkey. The macaques constitute a genus of Old World monkeys, of which there are twenty-two macaque species currently recognised, of which our own Bonnet Macaque, found extensively throughout this area, is one.

The article reads thus:

‘Why females love a good gossip ... even if they're macaque monkeys.’

“Female macaque monkeys love a good gossip as much as their chatty human counterparts, research has shown.

Scientists spent three months listening to a mixed group of macaques living on Cayo Santiago island off Puerto Rico. They discovered that, just as with humans, the female of the species was more talkative than the male.

The experts counted the grunts, coos and 'girneys' - friendly chit-chat between two individuals - while ignoring calls specifically used when in the presence of food or a predator. Female macaques were found to make 13 times as many friendly noises as males. They were also much more likely to chat to other females than males.

The scientists believe this is because female macaques form solid, long-lasting bonds. They stay in the same group for life, and rely on their female friends to help them look after offspring. In contrast males, who rove between groups throughout their life, chatted to both sexes equally.

Researcher Nathalie Greeno, from the University of Roehampton in London, told New Scientist magazine: 'The results suggest that females rely on vocal communication more than males due to their need to maintain the larger networks.' This is said to be the first time communication sex differences have been identified in non-human primates.

Primate expert Professor Klaus Zuberbuhler, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, agreed that the findings had a bearing on language development. In all social species, communication helped individuals 'navigate their daily social lives, usually by influencing the minds and behaviour of group members,' he said. He added that communication helped resolve tension between the opposite forces of competition and cooperation.”

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