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Small Talk- More than Just Monkey Business

For most primates, grooming is the number-one social behaviour. We’ve all seen nature shows on TV that show a band of chimps combing through one another’s other’s fur.

However, among humans, picking fleas off your neighbour’s scalp is generally considered anti-social behaviour. Instead, we bond by talking, whether it’s about sports, the weather, the news, or the latest round of celebrity gossip.

Now, scientists have found evidence of similar behavior among a species of monkey known as the macaque. Like humans, macaques, especially female macaques, tend to form large social networks. These networks simply consist of too many individuals to make grooming an effective method of bonding. It would just take too much time. The scientists conducting the study theorized that since macaques have such large social networks, they may be using vocalizations as another method of bonding, one that’s equally as important as mutual grooming.

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