Mother knows best, among wild vervet monkeys

Apr 25, 2012

Among vervet monkeys, social learning is strongly influenced by matrilineal family members, according to a study published Apr. 25 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The authors of the report, led by Erica van de Waal of University of St. Andrews, presented wild vervets with sand-covered grapes and monitored their grape-cleaning behavior to investigate different channels of social learning. Some monkeys cleaned the grapes by rubbing them between their hands or substrate, others peeled the grapes, and some ate the dirty grapes without cleaning them at all. Over time, though, the cleaning behavior converged within matrilines, highlighting the importance of the mother-offspring relationship for social learning.

The experimental design did not allow the researchers to determine if the children were learning from the mother or vice versa, but the authors write that the results suggest that mothers, relative to other dominant individuals, may be particularly strong . They also conducted further experiments to show that this is not a strictly .

"This result has major implications for the decision rules that underlie social learning and the consequences for the scale on which we may expect to find traditions and cultural evolution in ", says Dr. van de Waal.

Explore further: Researchers describe four new species of 'killer sponges' from the deep sea

More information: van de Waal E, Kru¨ tzen M, Hula J, Goudet J, Bshary R (2012) Similarity in Food Cleaning Techniques within Matrilines in Wild Vervet Monkeys. PLoS ONE 7(4): e35694. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035694

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Relearning process not always a 'free lunch'

Aug 22, 2008

Researchers at Sheffield University and the University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom, have helped determine why relearning a few pieces of information may or may not easily cause a recollection of other associated, previously ...

Grapes may help prevent age-related blindness

Jan 12, 2012

Can eating grapes slow or help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a debilitating condition affecting millions of elderly people worldwide? Results from a new study published in Free Radical Biology an ...

Recommended for you

Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

6 hours ago

Humans aren't alone in their ability to match a voice to a face—animals such as dogs, horses, crows and monkeys are able to recognize familiar individuals this way too, a growing body of research shows.

Love-shy panda artificially inseminated

16 hours ago

Britain's only female giant panda, Tian Tian, has been artificially inseminated after failing to mate with her male partner Yang Guang, Edinburgh Zoo said Tuesday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...