Science Diary: Monkeys – Social Dramas

Science Diary: Monkeys – Social Dramas

Music; Ambience: Capuchin vocalizations

TM: The longer I watch monkeys, the more human they become, rather than the less.

JM: It has all the drama and violence of a soap opera, set in the tree-tops of a Central American rainforest. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

TM: “For example, our study troupe of capuchins constantly have very complex social dramas. I see it more with this troupe because they’re easier for me to follow and so I have more data hours with them.”

JM: Earthwatch primatologist Tracy McKinney studies White-faced Capuchin monkeys in the forests of Costa Rica.

TM: “You can see males plotting takeovers. You can see females making sure that the males favor their offspring. You can see friendships and sister-ship bonds, and the more you watch them the more like us they seem to be. One controversial example, when a male monkey comes into a troupe and tries to overthrow the troupe, it’s very common if he becomes the new alpha male, for him to kill all the infants that have not yet been weaned. The reason they do this is in theory because that will bring the female back into cycle. He gets rid of his competitor’s offspring, and then all the females can then have his offspring and get his round of children started sooner. The females work around this by playing up to the new male, because if that male has mated with her ever, then as far as we know he will think that that kid could potentially be his offspring and will not attack it.”

JM: We’ll hear more about the monkeys of Costa Rica in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation and Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.

Science Diary: Monkeys - Social Dramas

It may not be Days of Our Lives, but observing the behavior of Capuchin monkeys is a lot like watching the daily soaps.
Air Date:03/20/2014
Scientist:
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Science Diary: Monkeys - Social Dramas

Music; Ambience: Capuchin vocalizations

TM: The longer I watch monkeys, the more human they become, rather than the less.

JM: It has all the drama and violence of a soap opera, set in the tree-tops of a Central American rainforest. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

TM: "For example, our study troupe of capuchins constantly have very complex social dramas. I see it more with this troupe because they're easier for me to follow and so I have more data hours with them."

JM: Earthwatch primatologist Tracy McKinney studies White-faced Capuchin monkeys in the forests of Costa Rica.

TM: "You can see males plotting takeovers. You can see females making sure that the males favor their offspring. You can see friendships and sister-ship bonds, and the more you watch them the more like us they seem to be. One controversial example, when a male monkey comes into a troupe and tries to overthrow the troupe, it's very common if he becomes the new alpha male, for him to kill all the infants that have not yet been weaned. The reason they do this is in theory because that will bring the female back into cycle. He gets rid of his competitor's offspring, and then all the females can then have his offspring and get his round of children started sooner. The females work around this by playing up to the new male, because if that male has mated with her ever, then as far as we know he will think that that kid could potentially be his offspring and will not attack it."

JM: We'll hear more about the monkeys of Costa Rica in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation and Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.