It turns out monkeys become more selective and picky as they age, especially when it comes to whom they’re spending their time with. A new research featured in the journal Current Biology has based its findings on behavioral and experimental studies.
For the study, the researchers at the German Primate Center in Göttingen, Germany, have focused on Barbary macaques. According to the lead author, Laura Almeling, humans limit their social interactions as they age, aware of their limited time remaining.
However, this type of understanding cannot be expected from monkeys as they have no way of knowing that aging leaves them with only so much time. But in spite of this, the macaques in the study have exhibited increased selectivity, just like humans.
For the behavioral experiments, researchers chose a sample of 100 monkeys of various ages, all kept in the ‘La Forêt des Singes’ in Rocamadour. Their purpose was to determine whether or not the Barbary macaques’ selectivity is related to their social environment.
To assess their interest in exploring new things, the team placed various objects in the monkeys’ enclosures, such as animal toys and colorful pieces enclosed in plastic cubes.
While the younger macaques showed high interest in playing with the new toys, the adult specimens were almost not curious at all. The researchers also wanted to examine their social interest, so they devised a second experiment.
The macaques were showed pictures of newborn monkeys and were played recorded screams of help made by friends and non-friends. When the screams were recognized as being made by socially important members of the community – such as young babies, the older female monkeys showed high levels of interest.
This interest was measured by the amount of time the monkeys interacted among themselves after a recording or after seeing a picture of a newborn. Researchers concluded that as they age, the Barbary macaques become more selective in their interactions and less invested in social interactions.
However, they still want to know what goes on in their social word, a finding supported by the number of interactions. The aging animals still wanted to know who was having a baby or who was fighting and screaming for help.
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