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Island Monkeys Do Not Recognize Big Cat Calls

Date:
January 21, 2008
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
Monkeys living on an island without big cat predators do not show any particular alarm when recorded tiger growls are played to them, according to new research. The pig-tailed langurs do, however, flee in a hurry from the sound of human voices.

Monkeys living on an island without big cat predators do not show any particular alarm when recorded tiger growls are played to them, according to research by a UC Davis graduate student. The pig-tailed langurs do, however, flee in a hurry from the sound of human voices.

"This contributes to a growing literature on how animal behavior changes under relaxed selection pressures," said Jessica Yorzinski, a graduate student in animal behavior at UC Davis, who authored the study with Thomas Ziegler of the German Primate Center in Gφttingen, Germany.

Pig-tailed langurs are medium-sized monkeys that spend most of their day sitting in trees in small groups eating leaves. Their close relatives on the mainland of Indonesia are prey for tigers and leopards, but on the Mentawai islands, the monkeys have been isolated from big cats for about half a million years.

Yorzinski played recordings of tiger and leopard calls and growls, as well as the sounds of elephants (another animal unknown to the monkeys), pigs and birds (animals they know, but which do not eat monkeys) and people talking in the local language. People do hunt the monkeys for food.

On hearing the noises, the monkeys would look around and at each other and might leave the area. They did not show any greater alarm at hearing big cat noises than at hearing an elephant, and would flee in about four to five seconds. But on hearing recorded human voices, the monkeys would flee within a second. They did not flee from bird or pig noises.

Yorzinski, of course, had to take care to stay out of sight when locating monkeys and setting up speakers. "We couldn't do the experiment if the monkeys saw us first," she said.

The study is published in the December 2007 issue of the journal Ethology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "Island Monkeys Do Not Recognize Big Cat Calls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117093444.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2008, January 21). Island Monkeys Do Not Recognize Big Cat Calls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117093444.htm
University of California - Davis. "Island Monkeys Do Not Recognize Big Cat Calls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117093444.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

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