Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Important monkey/flying squirrel insight news

For those who enjoy news about the relationship between monkeys and flying squirrels, and also good uses of the words ‘might’, ‘possible’, ‘insights’ and ‘important’ in the field of evolutionary psychology, this story will be most welcome. (My emboldening.)

Researchers have observed small monkeys called Japanese macaques going bananas at the sight of a flying squirrel...This riled-up response is probably just a false alarm, with the monkeys mistaking the squirrel for a predatory bird. On the other hand, male macaques – some of whom give chase and even attack a harmless rodent – might be trying to impress females in their troop.

Although this tough-guy motive was not proved in a new study, "it is possible that adult or sub-adult male monkeys may be 'showing off' their fitness" as potential mates, said Kenji Onishi, an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Osaka University and lead author of the paper being published in the current issue of the journal Primate Research.

Biologists and psychologists have long studied macaques' complex social interactions for insights into human evolution and behavior.

However, much remains unknown about how macaques get along (or not) with other creatures. Better documentation of such encounters could reveal more about macaque societies as well as that of our shared primate forebears.

"Human evolution occurred alongside primate evolution from a common mammalian ancestor," Onishi told LiveScience. "Therefore, it is important to learn the evolution of primates in understanding the previous steps in human evolution."

Dabbled by Dave Lull


  1. Oh dear all of the confusion seems to have rattled them.

  2. perhaps the monkeys have been the previous victims of unfortunate and painful nut hiding incidents?

  3. I'd give this article a 7.5 out of 10, mainly for technical merit. All the compulsory elements are there--the fanciful links to humans, the equivocations, the call for further study, etc. But this is a culture blog and it must be pointed out that, artistically speaking, the author leaves us with the feel of just going through the motions, as if he was filling out a template. Is Darwinism suffering from ennui? Where are the grabbers like "The relationship between macaques and flying squirrels may hold the key to understanding why chavs freak out and threaten to cut you up in pubs when you chat up their doxies?" or "If we can isolate the macaque gene that causes this, we may eventually be able, through genetic manipulation, to temper the patriarchical jealousies that have poisoned the relations between the sexes since...er...the Garden of Eden." Do they want the Ford Foundation's help or not?

  4. Perhaps those poor macaques are victims of sciurophobia, no doubt due to the negligence of the authorities in controlling the squirrel population. Adding a few no-win no-fee lawyers in there might soon sort out the men from the boys by establishing which monkeys are best 'showing off' their fitness" as potential litigants. This is the 21st century, after all.