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Posts Tagged ‘macaques’

I came across two interesting articles recently.   First, in Thailand primatologists have been observing macaques using human hair, coconut fiber, and twigs to floss their teeth.  The monkeys will pull hair right out of the heads of visiting

Credit: National Geographic Society

Credit: National Geographic Society

tourists and then use the hair as floss.  But what makes this a really amazing story is the finding that female macaques teach their young the flossing behavior!  Strands were placed around the monkeys’ habitat and when in front of juveniles, the females flossed slower and repeated the motions in a manner similar to the way a human might teach the same mechanics to a child.  Here is the National Geographic article that includes a video of these hygenic macaques.

While doing research for work, I came across a study that used a statistical technique that I’ve been using for my own analysis.  But the stats isn’t the story here.  This article comes from The Condor, where the authors studied the alarm calls of American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) to predators.  Studies have shown that alarm calls that cause the birds to flee give good information as to the type of threat involved.  However, not a lot of research has gone into the alarm call that cause crows to mob.  These calls signal the extended family group to go toward the predator.  The authors used taxidermic mounts of a great horned owl and a raccoon as stand-ins for common crow predators.  The authors found that crows give the same vocalization for different threats, but change the level of intensity and duration of the calls depending on the immediacy (proximity of the owl) and level of danger (owl vs. raccoon).  There are a number of interesting bits of information in the study – the extended family structure and hypothesis behind some unusual vocalizations to name a few.

Click the image for something a little more anecdotal.

Mobbing crows

Mobbing crows

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