MAY 19, 2019 7:17 AM PDT

Researchers Probe the Complex Predatory Warning Calls of Titi Monkeys

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Titi monkeys are social animals, and so it should come as no surprise to anyone that they enjoy communicating with one another. But according to new research published just this past week in the journal Science Advances, Titi monkey communication techniques could be a lot more complicated than initially thought.

A male Titi monkey.

Image Credit: Geoffrey Mesbahi

The revelation became evident after a team of researchers from the University of Neuchâtel and the University of St Andrews collaborated in a study involving Titi monkeys in their natural habitat in South America. There, the researchers observed a particularly advanced predator alert system in which the Titi monkeys alerted others in their group to potential dangers.

Related: These sneaky monkeys scavenge pre-cracked nuts left behind by larger predators

Titi monkeys certainly aren’t the only animals in existence that can alert others in their group to nearby predators, but they appear to have several different calls that distinguish the type of predator roaming around. With that in mind, one kind of call might alert others to a nearby flying predator, while another call might alert others to a nearby land-based predator.

Believe it or not, even this predatory alert system methodology isn’t unique to Titi monkeys, but while researching the animals in Brazil, the researchers happened upon something that is: dynamic predatory alert calls that change depending on the behavior of the predator at hand.

More specifically, if a flying predator would land on the ground, then the Titi monkeys adapted their call to alert their group. Likewise, when a land-based predator would climb into the trees up above, they’d have another specific call for that instance. These calls varied from the traditional calls that the Titi monkeys would use to distinguish flying or land-based predators and adds a new dimension to our understanding of the animals’ communication methods.

Related: Does hotter weather make predatory animals hunt more?

To study these highly-specialized warning calls, the researchers deployed decoy predators in the wilderness and recorded the Titi monkeys as they responded to the threat(s). To prevent false positives, the researchers paid particular attention to the monkeys’ attention as they made their calls to others and looked to see how those listening would respond.

Based on the warning calls the researchers observed, and the responses of those that listened, the researchers determined that specific warning calls may contain hidden messages about the threat at hand, allowing nearby Titi monkeys to take the proper action to survive. If true, this would mean that Titi monkeys have developed an advanced communication system, and developing a better understanding of their methods could have implications for similar alert systems in other animal species.

Researchers will undoubtedly continue to study Titi monkeys and their unique warning calls with the hope of understanding their communication systems better. With a little luck, perhaps they’ll catch some mundane detail.

Source: Phys.org, Science Advances

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
DEC 17, 2020
Immunology
A Peanut a Day Keeps Allergies Away
DEC 17, 2020
A Peanut a Day Keeps Allergies Away
Canadian researchers have made a breakthrough for children with peanut allergies: immunotherapy that when taken daily fo ...
JAN 19, 2021
Plants & Animals
How Seagrasses Can Remove Plastic From the Ocean
JAN 19, 2021
How Seagrasses Can Remove Plastic From the Ocean
Plastic pollution in the ocean is a major problem, from the great Pacifici Garbage Patch to the micro plastics that have ...
JAN 21, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Monitoring elephant populations with satellites and deep learning
JAN 21, 2021
Monitoring elephant populations with satellites and deep learning
An exciting development in conservation comes in the form of an automated system that captures high-resolution satellite ...
JAN 21, 2021
Plants & Animals
Western Monarch Migration Near Extinction
JAN 21, 2021
Western Monarch Migration Near Extinction
Earlier this week, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reported that the western monarch butterfly populati ...
FEB 23, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Dogs Versus AI-Powered Diagnostic Devices-Who Won?
FEB 23, 2021
Dogs Versus AI-Powered Diagnostic Devices-Who Won?
We’ve heard of dogs sniffing out cancer—an unsurprising skill given that they have over 200 million scent re ...
APR 15, 2021
Plants & Animals
A Protein That Creates a Fibonacci Sequence in Flower Heads
APR 15, 2021
A Protein That Creates a Fibonacci Sequence in Flower Heads
You're probably familiar with sunflowers, a member of the Asteraceae family. But the biology of the plant is a bit diffe ...
Loading Comments...