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Updated: May 30, 2010 18:57 IST

Capuchin monkeys anticipate feeding frenzy, calm down

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A Black Capped Capuchin monkey at the Monkey Jungle in Miami. FIle photo
AP A Black Capped Capuchin monkey at the Monkey Jungle in Miami. FIle photo

Researchers in Britain have found that tufted capuchin monkeys can anticipate situations which are likely to cause fights, and pre-emptively groom each other to prevent them, the ‘New Scientist’ reported.

A team, led by Eugenia Polizzi di Sorrentino of Liverpool John Moores University, studied a group of captive tufted capuchins. They were fed at the same time every day, leading to squabbles over the food.

The researchers found that the monkeys groomed each other much more in the 30 minutes before feeding time, and that this led to fewer attacks during feeding.

Subordinate monkeys groomed dominants to get permission to feed next to them, and dominants groomed subordinates as a signal that they would tolerate them, the findings revealed.

According to Phyllis Lee of University of Stirling, the findings provide evidence that the monkeys can plan for the future. “They’re anticipating a social stressor and taking action to prevent it,” he said.

However, Polizzi di Sorrentino disagreed. The capuchins are anticipating a future source of stress, becoming stressed about it in advance, and then grooming each other to relieve the tension, she said.

The study has been published in the ‘Animal Behaviour’ journal.


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