For this new episode of science monstersIn the Futura podcast dedicated to animal intelligence, we’re interested in the crab-eating macaque, this iconic Southeast Asian monkey with amazing negotiating skills.
Discover the amazing intelligence of the crab-eating macaque in this new episode of science monsters.
The. You may have never heard of his name, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen him before. Thanks to his expressive face and reputation as a thief, he became an iconic animal in Southeast Asia.
Bêtes de Science, the animal intelligence podcast
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you welcome in science monsters, a Futura podcast that gives pride of place to animals. I’m Mary and in this new episode we’ll be interested in the stealing talents of crab-eating macaques.
Everyone knows the crab-eating macaque. Also called the long-tailed macaque, it is the most common monkey in Southeast Asia. Easily recognizable thanks to his reddish-gray coat and highly expressive face, this mischievous boss almost disappeared for a while. Deforestation threatens their lands, and humans have hunted them down, hunting them as a traditional treat, meal, circus monster, or even as a laboratory animal. So much so that by the end of the 2000s, it had become the best-selling mammal among an endangered species of wildlife.
Today, the crab-eating macaque does best. Well, not really. If their number has increased today, it is mainly due to their breeding in captivity. The largest program of this kind has at least 30,000 individuals, but these are intended… for animal experimentation. Especially in the field of neurosciences. Therefore, the crab-eating macaque is far from fully regaining its freedom.
But this funny boss has more than one trick up his sleeve. Because at the same time, he learned to adapt, taking advantage of the environments that humans occupy. As in the city of Lopburi, Thailand, where the police surrendered in the face of the invasion of thousands of monkeys invading the streets. Or on the island of Bali, Indonesia, where they are looking for food near the Uluwatu Temple, which is located on top of a 70-meter cliff. And it is precisely the latter, in particular, that we will focus on today. Because imagining them showing intelligence and an understanding of the human world is somewhat surprising for wild apes.
The crab-eating macaques that live near the Uluwatu Temple have already learned the art of delicate negotiation. If we are easily met by this monkey who seems wise and luxurious, then this is not so. under himA calm animal, the plan is well thought out in his head. Sitting quietly on a stone parapet, one of them is doing an act. Suddenly leans forward and grabs quickly Something in the hands of a passerby. glasses and cameras or even Learn to identify valuables lurking in the pockets and bags of tourists. Once the theft is committed, the barter phase begins. Because let’s face it, our macaque doesn’t use much of a handbag once among his family, what matters is what he can get in return.
In 95% of cases, macaques agree to return the stolen thing in exchange for little food. But there again, they don’t let themselves be fooled. Shouldn’t we also say “clever as a monkey”? The more a thing appears to be of great value, the more it will demand the quality of the reward. The animal is not deceived and knows what it wants. The researchers also observed many of these interactions, which have a lot to teach us about primate intelligence. During one of the 17-minute exchanges, the monkey stubbornly refused to return the stolen piece, believing that the offer made to him in return fell short of what he stole. At the same time, you can’t teach an old monkey how to bargain!
Scientists say that mischievous primates learn this unique behavior through experience and observation, and pass it on from generation to generation. They estimate that the Uluwatu monkeys would have learned to master negotiation more than thirty years ago to deal with the changes brought about by humans. A great example of the adaptation and cultural and economic intelligence of macaques, which researchers hope to be able to observe in increasingly complex and precise situations…with the hope of letting them breathe a little bit outside the labs. So, it is not stupid, macaques eat crab!
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