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Can monkeys mislead?

Capuchin monkeys cry "predator" to trick more senior members of their troop into fleeing the dinner table, leaving more food for themselves, according to a linkurl:study published online this week;http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/06/02/rspb.2009.0544.abstract?sid=004f43ad-84b7-461e-a605-d647c5c15086 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Image: Brandon Wheeler"This is one of the only studies which has actually [used] an experimental paradigm to look at tactical deceptio

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Capuchin monkeys cry "predator" to trick more senior members of their troop into fleeing the dinner table, leaving more food for themselves, according to a linkurl:study published online this week;http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/06/02/rspb.2009.0544.abstract?sid=004f43ad-84b7-461e-a605-d647c5c15086 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Image: Brandon Wheeler
"This is one of the only studies which has actually [used] an experimental paradigm to look at tactical deception," said primatologist linkurl:Katie Slocombe;http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/psych/www/people/biogs/ks553.html of the University of York, UK, who was not involved in the work. In this case, producing false alarm calls allows animals lower in the social hierarchy "to get hold of food that they would not be able to access otherwise." In the forest of Iguazá National Park, Argentina, primatologist linkurl:Brandon Wheeler;http://www.anat.sunysb.edu/IDPAS/index.php?page=students/wheeler of Stony Brook University in New York observed a well-studied population of approximately 25 capuchin monkeys giving "hiccup" calls -- two-syllable cooing sounds commonly uttered in response to danger (play audio for an example) --...




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