Monkeys Caught Whispering Around Humans They Don’t Like
First example of whispering observed in non-human primates
Researchers noticed tamarin monkeys communicating with each other at a ’reduced amplitude’ in the presence of zoo staff they disliked
The first example of whispering by non-human primates has been observed amongst a group of tamarin monkeys in captivity in New York City’s Central Park Zoo.
The group of cotton-top tamarins were being observed in order to study their use of human-directed mobbing calls (signals made by groups of prey to confuse and intimidate predators).
However, scientists observed that when a particularly disliked member of zoo staff entered the tamarins’ habitation the primates did not make mobbing calls but instead communicated with one another using “low amplitude vocalizations”.
The research concluded that “the tamarins were reducing the amplitude of their vocalizations in the context of exposure to a potential threat”. In other words the primates - like many humans - felt it was prudent to keep quiet when a disliked or dangerous individual was around.
The zoo keeper in question had been involved in the capture of the tamarins, with the family of five previously exhibiting "a strong mobbing response" in his presence.
Read the full article at: independent.co.uk