Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wild monkeys watch fights to exploit losers for grooming

Date:
October 11, 2012
Source:
University of Lincoln
Summary:
Wild macaques who are bystanders to fights within their group exploit the losers for grooming favors, new research has shown. The findings reveal previously unknown details about the important function observing others' aggressive behavior serves in primate society, and may even help to explain why humans often hold a fascination with watching fights.

A conflict between Barbary macaques.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Lincoln

Wild macaques who are bystanders to fights within their group exploit the losers for grooming favours, new research has shown.

Related Articles


The findings, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, reveal previously unknown details about the important function observing others' aggressive behaviour serves in primate society, and may even help to explain why humans often hold a fascination with watching fights.

The study by Dr Bonaventura Majolo from the University of Lincoln, UK, and Dr Richard McFarland from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, is the first of its kind to fully scrutinise 'bystander affiliation' in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus).

Bystander affiliation describes a range of friendly social interactions, such as grooming, shared by victims and witnesses following aggressive interactions in animal societies.

Reconciliation between former adversaries after confrontations is a common and well-studied aspect of primate society but the nature of bystander affiliation is less well-understood.

It had been assumed the behaviour serves largely as consolation for the victim, alleviating anxiety felt after a defeat. However, the latest study suggests that bystanders may have more selfish motivations.

The team found that in most instances, it is bystanders who initiate contact with victims and when grooming does result, bystanders reap the benefits for longer.

They concluded that rather than offering consolation or protection, bystanders tend to exploit the vulnerable position of defeated individuals in order to elicit grooming. Grooming is not just a socially important behaviour in primate society; it also confers selective advantages, such as the removal of parasites.

Dr Majolo, from the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, said: "One of the reasons why we humans are so interested in watching aggressive interactions may be that these conflicts provide a wealth of important information about others in our group. There should therefore have been strong selective pressure on our ancestors to pay attention to such events.

"Our observation of grooming exploitation among wild Barbary macaques would support the theory that observing aggressive interactions between group companions can have a range of social benefits and functions."

Barbary macaques are a deeply ancestral species of macaque and the last of their kind remaining in Africa. An IUCN Red List Species, most wild populations are found in the Middle Atlas Mountains range of North Africa.

Drs Majolo and McFarland are part of an international team of academics which has established a successful field site near the city of Azrou, Morocco, where they are observing several groups of Barbary macaque in the wild comprising more than 50 individuals.

Their latest findings are compatible with their recent study which provided rare evidence of 'coercion' among primates in the wild. They found dominant Barbary macaques appeared to provoke confrontations with the sole aim of eliciting grooming from subordinates.

Acts of aggression were defined by the researchers as attempts by one animal to threaten, lunge, chase, slap, grab or bite another. Protagonists were labelled as aggressor or victim, depending on who initiated the conflict. Bystanders were also identified.

The researchers recorded 191 instances of 'post conflict' behaviour involving a victim of aggression. Around a quarter (24%) of those were examples of bystander affiliation. Of these cases, almost half (49%) were initiated by a bystander, 38% by a victim and the remaining 13% were considered to be mutual. In other words, it was more common for bystanders to approach victims immediately after aggression than the other way round. When grooming occurred, bystanders received significantly more grooming than victims.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Richard McFarland, Bonaventura Majolo. The occurrence and benefits of postconflict bystander affiliation in wild Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanus. Animal Behaviour, 2012; 84 (3): 583 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.06.010

Cite This Page:

University of Lincoln. "Wild monkeys watch fights to exploit losers for grooming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011085215.htm>.
University of Lincoln. (2012, October 11). Wild monkeys watch fights to exploit losers for grooming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011085215.htm
University of Lincoln. "Wild monkeys watch fights to exploit losers for grooming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011085215.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins