JUL 23, 2018 5:39 PM PDT

These Sneaky Monkeys Scavenge Nuts That Are Pre-Cracked by Predators

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Throughout West Africa’s Taï National Park, the miniature mangabey monkey scavenges on the remnants of hard nuts that have been cracked open by larger animals, such as chimpanzees and hogs.

Curious researchers wanted to learn more about this eccentric behavior, so they analyzed camera trap data collected in four significant regions of the park to do so. Their findings appear in the American Journal of Primatology.

A wild mangabey monkey feasts on some nut remnants.

Image Credit: Tai Chimpanzee Project, Alexander Mielke

The camera trap data presented the researchers with 190 unique incidents of nut-cracking, and in many of those, mangabey monkeys and various foul and squirrels responded positively to the nut remnants.

Albeit uncommon, the larger chimpanzees sometimes prey upon the smaller mangabey monkeys. Unsurprisingly, the mangabey monkeys displayed boosted alertness to their surroundings, indicating their awareness of the potential threats imposed by visiting a predator’s previous feeding grounds.

"After studying both species for many months, I remain intrigued by the puzzling relationship between mangabey monkeys and chimpanzees," said study co-author Karline Janmaat of the University of Amsterdam and the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology.

"At some moments the monkeys seem to be scared of these potential though infrequent predators, while at other times they approach chimpanzees within meters to profit from their tool-using skills as if they had learned to anticipate the other species 'mood'."

Related: Monkeys recognize faces in inanimate objects

Surprisingly enough, mangabey monkeys were the most frequent visitors of the nut remnants despite their relationship to chimpanzees on the food chain. The findings are perplexing and seem to raise more questions than answers.

"The decisions of mangabeys to approach food left-overs from potential predators may imply contextual knowledge that helps the monkeys to judge when they are safe and when they need to be vigilant or move into a safe position," Janmaat added.

Related: Watch a monkey save a mouse from a snake

Mangabey monkeys can’t open the nuts for themselves because they aren’t strong enough. That said, the findings appear to highlight an unusual bond between predator and prey that is both interesting and perplexing at the same time.

Source: University of Amsterdam

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 24, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 24, 2019
Plants Moved to Land by Stealing Genes from Soil Bacteria
Algae were the first pants on earth, and they lived underwater. How they managed to move onto land was largely a mystery, until now. By studying the genome...
DEC 03, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 03, 2019
Small forests provide key ecosystem services
Due to human expansion in agriculture and livestock, logging, gas and oil exploration, and infrastructure expansion, forests today are more fragmented than...
DEC 27, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 27, 2019
How Dog Genomics Can Teach Us More About Human Health
It's been estimated that there are around 70 million pet dogs in the United States, with around 36 percent of households owning at least one dog....
JAN 05, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 05, 2020
Scientists Shed Light on 'Teenaged' T. Rex
If you were to ask a bunch of random people off the street to begin naming dinosaurs, then the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex would likely reside at the top of...
JAN 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 19, 2020
Study Reaffirms That An Asteroid Killed the Dinosaurs, Not Volcanoes
Oodles of massive fossils tell stories about the fearsome beasts that once roamed the Earth called dinosaurs. Some were merciless carnivores with jaws mean...
FEB 11, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 11, 2020
How the World's Fastest Cat Compares to the World's Fastest Dog
Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animal; their powerful hind legs give them incredible launching power and their stretchy spines provide a massi...
Loading Comments...