Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yeah, But Can They Tie Their Own Flies

Primatologists have witnessed long-tailed macaques catching fish from rivers with their bare hands and eating the catch sushi style. For the past eight years, the troop has displayed their skills and apparently it's pretty hard. They impressed the science guys so much that a paper was written and presented to the world recently.

Groups of long-tailed macaques were observed four times over the past eight years scooping up small fish with their hands and eating them along rivers in East Kalimantan and North Sumatra provinces, according to researchers from The Nature Conservancy and the Great Ape Trust.

The species had been known to eat fruit and forage for crabs and insects, but never before fish from rivers.

"It's exciting that after such a long time you see new behavior," said Erik Meijaard, one of the authors of a study on fishing macaques that appeared in last month's International Journal of Primatology. "It's an indication of how little we know about the species."

Meijaard, a senior science adviser at The Nature Conservancy, said it was unclear what prompted the long-tailed macaques to go fishing. But he said it showed a side of the monkeys that is well-known to researchers - an ability to adapt to the changing environment and shifting food sources.

"They are a survivor species, which has the knowledge to cope with difficult conditions," Meijaard said Tuesday. "This behavior potentially symbolizes that ecological flexibility."
(...)

Some other primates have exhibited fishing behavior, Meijaard wrote, including Japanese macaques, chacma baboons, olive baboons, chimpanzees and orangutans.
Oh, well! If baboons can do it, fishing can't be all that hard. Maybe people will give this fishing thing a try.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

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