Gene Expression

Monkeys with bad habits

The death of an Indian politician due to a monkey mob is getting a lot of attention. But Ruchira Paul points me to an older story which I think is even more interesting:

They have invaded the prime minister’s office and the Defence Ministry, helping themselves to top secret military files.

Some 250 monkeys have already been relocated by a court order to forests in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

But many people there are now objecting, saying the animals are bringing with them their hooligan habits learnt in the city and are terrorising rural villages.

Slate has more about the complexity of monkey behavior. We aren’t the only species to facultatively shift our habits in response to opportunities in the environment. Here is a familiar bit, “Female victims might seek protection in a group of men, since monkeys are somewhat afraid of males.” Rember the sexual harassing monkeys?


  1. #1 Ruchira
    October 24, 2007

    I heard one of the funniest “monkey see, monkey do” stories from my mother. In the large garden of the home where she grew up, there lived a sizable group of monkeys. One morning, one of them stole the eye glasses of an older member of the household who had dozed off on the verandah while reading the newspaper. The monkey proceeded to put the spectacles on his own nose and clambered up a tree. No amount of threats, noise, shaking of the branches could persuade him to give up the new found treasure. On the assumption that monkeys often imitate human actions, some bespectacled onlookers yanked of their own glasses and pretended to throw them down. The monkey didn’t follow suit. Then judging from the clumsy and tentative movements of the bespectacled monkey, it dawned upon everyone that he couldn’t see very well through the glasses and it was fruitless to perform the pantomime. It wasn’t until mid-day that the eye-glasses were recovered when they slipped from the monkey’s nose and fell on the ground.

  2. #2 razib
    October 24, 2007

    LOL. that was hilarious.

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