this animal (almost) always makes the best decision

“Beasts of Science” is like a collection of stories. Good stories that tell life in all its freshness. But also in all its complexity. A break to marvel at the treasures of the world. For once, let’s look at our favorite cousin for the second time in a row: the monkey.

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The Vervet. You know ? It is a species of monkey that lives in the east and the South Africa. A relatively small monkey as it weighs about five kilos for a maximum size of 60 centimeters to which a tail of almost 70 centimeters still needs to be added.

This monkey lives in a group. Large groups that can accommodate up to 50 people. Males, females and young. And what’s special about him is that he knows how to adapt to the presence of humans. A little too much but do not hesitate to venture into the cities. Or in the plantations. Which is worth it in addition to being kicked out sometimes. However, it is not (yet) in danger.

Another peculiarity that researchers have discovered in it is a sense of planning that goes hand in hand with a well-developed sense of direction. So if you’re one of those people who has a habit of getting lost on the holiday path, you can take Vervet as an example. In the meantime, let the ethologists tell us more precisely what they have observed wild monkeys from central Uganda.

Decisions based on multiple information

They were prepared for a rich lesson experience. On five platforms arranged at the vertices of a regular pentagon, the researchers deposited corn kernels and bananas trapped in a perforated box. On four platforms he rested But and in one, bananas. You should know that Vervet loves bananas. The problem for him here is that bananas are the ones that researchers had decided to make access difficult. Hidden in a box that you have to shake or roll to remove.

First observation: the Vervets have been very good at figuring out how to get the bananas back from the bottom of their box. The less gifted took just over a minute to figure out the trick. The others did it without even having theair to think about it.

But the most surprising observation that ethologists have made is that these monkeys did not make decisions dictated solely by gula. Before they started, they considered their situation. Understand their rank in the group hierarchy, their ability to handle the banana box or the presence in the vicinity of a direct competitor. When the risk was considered low, the studied Vervet took a route that minimized travel costs. When the risk was considered high or the monkey had shown poor handling of the box, the Vervet rushed … to the bananas. To devour them without waiting and risk escaping. When the risk was considered moderate, the lower-ranking Vervet took the time to stop right on a corn platform before joining that of the bananas.

As a result, in most cases, the Vervet studied manages to appropriate its favorite food. Or in any case, a maximum total amount of food. Enough to show how complex the decision-making process can be in this particular monkey, based on the synthesis of numerous information, ecological or social. And how fast it is! What finally proves that Vervet … is not so stupid!

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