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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
Hug It Out, Monkey
21 February 2007 (All day)
We all do it: Give friends and family a peck on the cheek, a quick hug, or maybe even a nose rub to say hello. It's a way of assuring each other that we have no hostile intent, anthropologists say. Now, primatologists report that spider monkeys embrace intensely after a period of separation for exactly the same reason.
Like humans and chimpanzees, spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) live in small groups that split apart to feed or hunt (or shop at Saks) and then rejoin later in the day. For years, researchers have noticed that these monkey reunions are often accompanied by public displays of hugging. "They give a quick call and look intensely at each other, and then briefly wrap each other in their long arms in what's almost a passionate embrace," says Filippo Aureli, a primatologist at Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K. In some cases, the monkeys even curl their tails around one other.
To decipher the social meaning of these embraces, Aureli and primatologist Colleen Schaffner of the University of Chester in the U.K., studied two spider monkey communities on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. After analyzing some 195 "fusion events"--the moment when the monkeys got back together--the researchers noticed a distinct pattern. Individuals that embraced upon meeting again seldom behaved aggressively toward each other or the rest of the group. "This is always a time of potential friction and when they're most prone to fight," says Aureli, "because of the limited supply of food or other resources." Hugging is "their way of conflict management," he says. The team reports its findings online this week in Biology Letters.
"It's a valuable study," says Frans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. "It shows how important greetings are in these fission-fusion societies, including our own."