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Macaque monkeys in a Bali temple can spot expensive items to steal and reward for food

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(CNN) Well known phrase cheeky monkey there is a basis in fact, if any new study on primate behavior has anything to go on.

She found that long-tailed macaque wild monkeys were intelligent enough to figure out which items had the highest value to visitors, such as an electronic item, and would release it only after receiving food they thought they would had the corresponding value.

The authors said the behavior exhibited “unforeseen economic decision-making processes” among the monkeys observed as part of the study.

An understanding of economics

Scientists, from the University of Lethbridge, Canada and the University of Udayana, Indonesia, noted that as well as being able to “use objects as symbolic means to seek specific food rewards”, the monkeys’ ability to exchange successfully increased with age. and experience.

There were “clear associations of conduct between value-based symbol possession and the quantity or quality of food rewards rejected and accepted by the subadult adult monkeys“, said the authors, with older monkeys” preferred “choosing items of higher value.

The research, published on Monday, was conducted over 273 days from 2015 to 2016, with further observations conducted in 2019.

The scientists filmed the monkeys as they watched a visitor, invisibly approached them, picked up an object, and then walked away waiting for a suitable offer.

Adult monkeys accumulated “some food rewards before returning the mark” where the item was of high value and were “more likely” to receive a “less preferred food reward” in exchange for a more valuable item. low, the study said.

“Sign-grabbing and exchanging signs / rewards are challenging cognitive tasks for Uluwatu macaques that uncovered unprecedented economic decision-making processes,” the authors said.

“This spontaneous, population-specific practice, pervasive, intergenerational, learned and influenced by society, may be the first example of a culturally sustained free-ranging animal economy.”

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