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These monkeys surprised scientists by sharing even more when no one was looking

Marmosets engage in rigorously polite patterns of communication and do not talk over or interrupt each other. They are so inquisitive that they will watch videos of marmosets they do not know and learn from them.

MELISSA HEALY: ‘Marmoset monkeys exist on a branch of the evolutionary tree that is distinct from the one that led to humans. But these fellow primates consistently astonish researchers with social behavior that seems, well, pretty highly evolved. Marmosets engage in rigorously polite patterns of communication and do not talk over or interrupt each other. Though territorial, they are so inquisitive that they will watch videos of marmosets they do not know and learn from them…

Such seemingly selfless behavior makes the common marmoset a particular puzzle for researchers keen to explain the already-perplexing phenomenon of altruism in humans and a few other higher-order primates. After all, in stark evolutionary terms, kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice make no sense. When an individual’s survival and the propagation of his genes arguably depend on his hoarding every advantage for himself, why on earth would he forfeit anything to benefit a fellow member of his species?…

Marmosets’ social organization and child-rearing practices could have been the model for the phrase, “it takes a village.” A dominant male and female breed, and their babies are meticulously looked after by extended family members who then aren’t free to breed themselves. A new study further burnishes the marmoset’s reputation for admirable community values. Researchers report that these caregivers share their food more generously with little ones in private than when they’re surrounded by the watchful eyes of other community members’. SOURCE…


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