Free-ranging macaque mothers exaggerate tool-using behavior when observed by offspring

  • Masataka N
  • Koda H
  • Urasopon N
 et al. 
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Abstract

The population-level use of tools has been reported in various animals. Nonetheless, how tool use might spread throughout a population is still an open question. In order to answer that, we observed the behavior of inserting human hair or human-hair-like material between their teeth as if they were using dental floss in a group of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Thailand. The observation was undertaken by video-recording the tool-use of 7 adult females who were rearing 1-year-old infants, using the focal-animal-sampling method. When the data recorded were analyzed separately according to the presence/absence of the infant of the target animal in the target animal's proximity, the pattern of the tool-using action of long-tailed adult female macaques under our observation changed in the presence of the infant as compared with that in the absence of the infant so that the stream of tool-using action was punctuated by more pauses, repeated more often, and performed for a longer period during each bout in the presence of the infant. We interpret this as evidence for the possibility that they exaggerate their action in tool-using so as to facilitate the learning of the action by their own infants.

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