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Are capuchin monkeys WIMPS?

February 10, 2014

Are capuchin monkeys WIMPS?

Capuchin monkeys like a good tussle. They have little fear of taking on spider monkeys, even though they usually lose fights with their bigger rivals

Capuchin monkeys like a good tussle. They have little fear of taking on spider monkeys, even though they usually lose fights with their bigger rivals. If they spot coatis while foraging, they’ll run those raccoon family-members out of the way. Capuchins will antagonize most of the living creatures they encounter (and a few of the non-sentient ones too!)–as biologists who have had sticks or huge seeds thrown at them can confirm. The only thing they’re afraid of, it seems, are themselves.

Lucía Torrez, a masters student at the University of Panama, and Meg Crofoot, a research associate at STRI, have noticed capuchins tend to avoid the parts of their territories that overlap with the territories of neighboring capuchin groups. They think this might be because they are afraid of getting into battles with other groups.

Capuchins are highly territorial and an encounter between groups will almost likely lead to a full-on rumble in the jungle. This expends energy, may cause injury and – in the most extreme cases – leave a monkey dead. “The territory boundaries depend on how aggressive the neighbors are,” said Torrez.

On Panama’s Barro Colorado Island capuchin territories are shifting, as populations recover from a weather-induced population crash between late 2010 and early 2011. This gives researchers a rare glance at how groups reorganize and redraw their borderlines. Said Torrez: “Groups are moving into areas they’ve never been.” Probably very cautiously.

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