Monkeys Sticking Their Tongues Out!

Steve mentioned this on the most recent podcast, so I had to check it out. Researchers have recently determined that monkeys practice imitation “with a purpose.” I originally thought this was no big deal, but apparently it hasn’t been shown conclusively before that monkeys (as opposed to apes) practice this as a form of social learning.

So, this story has immediately captured my attention due to the subject matter. There are two additional points that make this far and away one of the greatest news stories of the year: first, the monkeys in question are newborn (NEWBORN) monkeys. We’re talking three-day old monkeys, here. Second, the researchers captured video evidence of the tests, and then made the videos public on the Internet.

I know!

You can see the videos here and here, and read more about the studies right here.

Oh wait! I remembered a third point that makes this awesome: the researcher sticking out his tongue in the first video linked. Now, I can’t tell for sure because I only see a pierced ear and a tongue, really, but . . . rowr.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Wait! I demand to know the effect this will have on the saying "monkey see, monkey do"!

    Will we have to alter our interpretation of that statement? I mean, previously we just assumed monkey imitation had no purpose, which is why that phrase is used to refer to dumb people copying others. But! Since monkey imitation turns out to actually be an advanced form of social learning, does this mean that "monkey see, monkey do" is now a compliment? As if to say, "Ah! By imitating me, you indicate your desire to learn proper social behaviour; therefore, you must be an exceedingly well-socialised and well-mannered individual, or at least show desire in becoming such."

  2. My comment got eaten by the Blog Monster. =(

    But basically, I want to know what effect this new research has on the popular saying "monkey see, monkey do".

  3. I shall take note and purchase myself a newborn monkey and repeatedly stick my tongue out at it in public in an attempt to attract skepchicks.

  4. It's funny, because three-day-old human babies can barely see, yet these monkeys are already smart enough to imitate behavior …

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