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by ibgames

EARTHDATE: June 18, 2017

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by Hazed

Long-tailed macaques living near an Indonesian temple have developed a ransom racket in order to get food. They grab valuables from tourists, and won’t give them back until offered food.

The monkeys steal glasses, hats, cameras, or in one case even a wad of cash from the ticket booth. They wait for temple staff to offer them food, the drop the loot and run off with their tasty treat. Click the source link below to see a video of this extortion in action.

This behaviour is not new – it has been reported at the temple on the island of Bali for years – but now for the first time it has been studied scientifically. Fany Brotcorne, a primatologist at the University of Liège in Belgium, and her colleagues wanted to find out how and why it has spread through the monkey population. “It’s a unique behaviour. The Uluwatu Temple is the only place in Bali where it’s found,” she says. This suggests that it’s not an innate ability, but rather a learned behaviour the monkeys are passing on from one to another as part of their culture.

Brotcorne spent four months observing four different groups of monkeys that live near the temple. Two of the groups spent more time around the tourists, and they were the ones that had the highest rates of this stealing behaviour. This supports the idea that the monkeys learn to do this by watching each other.

Brotcorne says her work will not only help researchers learn more about the psychology of primates, and how they transmit information among groups, but also help answer questions about the evolution of human cognitive abilities. “Bartering and trading skills are not well known in animals. They are usually defined as exclusive to humans,” she says.

She also said that she frequently fell victim to the extortion of the macaques: “Oh, so many times,” she says. “The monkeys were always trying to steal my hat, my pen, even my research data!”

Source: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132748-monkey-mafia-steal-your-stuff-then-sell-it-back-for-a-cracker/

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