Wild Vervet Monkeys Pay More Attention to Female Monkey Teachers

GreenTracker| BBC News reports that scientists studying wild vervet monkeys in South Africa were better able to learn a task when it was demonstrated by a female. Before readers jump to conclusions, this isn’t a story about superior female brains.

Read the details of this first known experiement on social primates living in the wild, and not in captivity. After concluding that females were better teachers than male monkeys, head researcher Biologist Erica van de Waal, from the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland is quick to explain that the male monkeys didn’t fail being good teachers of how to open the boxes but rather than monkeys of both sexes paid more attention to female monkeys.

Watching and learning from dominant females could be advantageous for the monkeys. While males tend to wander and find mates in other groups, females usually return to the group in which they were born.

“Females are core group members with higher social status than males, and more knowledge about food resources in the home range,” explained Ms van de Waal.

She said the results revealed valuable insights into “the evolution of traditions and culture in species living in stable groups, including humans”. via BBC News