Some primates deliberately play and fool around to avoid conflict

(ORDO NEWS) — A new study has shown that adult howler monkeys know how to avoid conflict with their relatives! They use the game to reduce group tension.

A study by a team of researchers from Spain, Brazil and the UK focused on the activities of two subspecies of howler monkeys: the Mexican howler monkey (Alouatta palliata mexicana) and the Colombian howler monkey (Alouatta palliata palliata).

Scientists have studied how the mode of play changes with age. They measured the amount of time adults spend with other adult and juvenile monkeys in their groups.

The game itself consists in different sound signals, hanging on the tail and certain facial expressions. However, play is an energy-intensive activity for howler monkeys, who are usually inactive due to their leaf-based diet.

What did observations of primates show?

Some primates deliberately play and fool around to avoid conflict 2

Despite this, the researchers found that the amount of adult play was related to group size. Interestingly, adult primates played more with their own age than with children or adolescents.

In addition, the authors noted that the number of games increased in line with the time spent looking for fruit. since this species mainly eats leaves, fruits are a special delicacy for them, which encourages competition.

The authors of the study believe that play helps howler monkeys regulate relationships within their social group and avoid conflicts.

Co-author Dr. Jacob Dunn, associate professor of evolutionary biology, said: “Despite our own perception of what play means, it is not always something frivolous. We believe it serves an important function in howler monkey society by reducing tensions when competition for scarce resources arises.”


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