Do you need some ideas for a school science project? What about animals? Kidzworld is starting a new segment called “All About Animals” and we will be exploring the nature of a particular animal or species every week. This week why don’t we start with everyone’s favorite animal… the monkey!
Monkeys are one of the funniest animals in nature. They are full of curiosity and adventure, mischief and intelligence. A monkey would make a great science project because there are many different species that you could explore, and also, you could study how monkeys evolved into human beings.
Although most monkeys look the same with their long arms and human-like faces, there are over 250 breeds of this species. Let’s take a look at some of their similar characteristics.
- Monkeys live in the jungle (mostly tropical rain forests)
- Monkeys love to eat fruits (like BANANAS), but monkeys eat will anything that smells good... and bad
- Monkeys are sneaky, and in cities like Bangkok, they will steal food from street vendors, stores and unsuspecting tourists
- Monkeys have feelings just like humans (Love, Fear, Compassion, Hate)
- Monkeys nurse and help each other when wounded
- They hold hands and groom with affection
- Small monkeys can be kept as pets and trained as they are highly intelligent
- Larger monkeys are strong, quick, and have claws that can kill
When hunting for food, monkeys work in groups. There is always a leader who gathers food while others stand guard. Monkeys speak a language for alerting danger. They have a word for each dangerous predator:
- Ehh… No Danger.
That Little Liar!
Monkeys have been discovered to lie amongst each other. While hunting for food, the leader sometimes finds a treat like an egg. If he wants that egg for himself without sharing with the others, he will yell “TIGER!”. And while his group of hunters retreat into the trees, he has lots of time to kick back and eat the egg all for himself.
Top 3 Favorite Monkeys
Some monkeys are so beautiful, we have to show you their picture. Here are our favorite breeds of monkeys…
Rhesus macaque and baby
The life of a monkey is full of ups and downs. Like us, monkeys form strong friendships and bitter rivalries. They fight for each other and take care of one another. And the leader of a monkey troop, when deposed, will even exhibit signs of depression. When we watch their behavior we get the sense that their emotional lives may share something in common with our own.
Friends and Enemies
Monkeys have a complex social system, and they form relationships with each other on an individual basis. When they encounter each other, monkeys will remember back to past interactions. Old rivals can be greeted with rage if they swing into the wrong part of the jungle. As we see in Clever Monkeys, such skirmishes sometimes even end in death.
By the same token, monkeys will remember the help of a friend. Grooming, for example, shows affection and respect. And when it’s time for a fight, a monkey with whom you’ve built a friendship is much more likely to fight at your side — or clean your wounds afterward!
Dealing with Death
Toque macaques huddle together after a member of their troop is killed in Clever Monkeys. Image © BBC
In Clever Monkeys, when the leader of a troop of toque macaques is killed, the others gather in silence around his body. As though they truly feel remorse, even his old rivals now seem to show their deference, tenderly touching their fallen leader.
Everyone is affected by death, but a monkey mother that has lost her infant seems especially hard-hit. In nearly all species of monkey, the mother will carry her child’s lifeless body around with her for days. Do these examples show that monkeys share our emotional response to death? Some researchers suggest that while they may not understand death in the same way we do, monkeys and apes do seem share our tendency to have trouble accepting it.
Monkeys suffer from stress, much like we do, and often it seems to relate to social problems. For example, baboon society is extremely competitive. Males who try to move up the social ladder and fail can suffer from high blood pressure and even ulcers. But those at the top don’t necessarily have it any better: high-ranking males who fall from power often exhibit signs of depression.
A Mother’s Love
A mother monkey’s attention and care during her child’s infancy has a significant impact on the young monkey’s emotional development. Infant rhesus and pigtail monkeys react to the absence of their mothers in much the way we would expect a human child to react. At first, they coo for her and search excitedly. However, after a while, they will stop playing with others and take on a slouched posture.
A lack of love from mother and peers during infancy has an even greater effect later in life. In one study, three-year-old rhesus monkeys that were isolated during their first year of life showed much more aggression toward unknown monkeys than did their peers.
From maintaining complex social relationships, to suffering anxiety and depression, there are many trials in the life of a monkey. Perhaps the next thing monkeys should consider evolving is a good therapist.
Photo (top) © Charlotte Scott