Smart animals: capuchin monkeys remember food sites (Animals)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 05, 2016, 20:19 (236 days ago) @ David Turell

A careful study shows that capuchin monkeys remember where to find food:

"Charles Janson, a professor of biological anthropology, zoology and evolutionary biology at the University of Montana, has found that capuchin monkeys have memory abilities that are far more complex than has been realized. In his paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, he describes experiments he designed and carried out with monkeys in the wild, what he observed and why he now believes that the monkeys have integrated memories regarding food sites including where they are located, how much food is likely to be at a particular site and an awareness of how much time has passed since they last visited each site.

"Janson notes that prior research showed that capuchin monkeys were able to remember the location and amount of food at patches they had previously visited—in this new effort, he sought to discover if they remembered other things about the places where they get their food. To learn more, he set up eight feeding sites in Iguazu´ Falls National Park in northeastern Argentina, which allowed him to vary the amount of food the monkeys would find at a given site. He simulated the maturing process that fruit goes through naturally by putting more food at sites that had been there longer and observed the behavior of the monkeys visiting the sites and eating what they found there.

"He found that over a period of 68 days, which corresponded to two fruit maturation cycles, a group of monkeys that visited his test patches had to make 212 choices regarding where to eat. He then compared their choice making with simulated movements and against statistical models to provide a means for judging whether the choices were random or were made intentionally by the monkeys. He reports that the choices made by the monkeys indicated they were using dynamic memory to keep track of elapsed time specific to each of the feeding sites. What this meant was that the monkeys were able to keep track of not only where the food would be, but how much to expect at each patch based on how much time had passed. And this means that they possess memory skills that up till now, only humans were believed to have."

Comment: Squirrels do the same thing in nut storage. I'm not surprised at the findings.

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