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Western Japan island macaques can cooperate to achieve goals: Osaka University

(Photo courtesy of Osaka University)

OSAKA -- Japanese macaques on Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, have been found to be capable of cooperating with each other, according to research published in an international online journal by a team at Osaka University.

The monkeys on the island exhibit characteristics in which they don't attack other group members often, not even to gain a greater share of food. They are believed to be more tolerant of their fellow primates than common Japanese macaques are.

In the experiment, two macaques had to each pull strings attached to a board to obtain the food left on top of it. The groups of monkeys from the island who performed the task were more likely to realize the necessity to cooperate with each other.

Split by types of macaque, those on Awaji Island enjoyed an experiment success rate of around 53%, while completion rates were just 1% for macaques inhabiting a natural park in the city of Maniwa, Okayama Prefecture, western Japan.

Kazunori Yamada, a lecturer at Osaka University and a member of the team, said, "Japanese macaques were thought not to be intelligent enough to cooperate with each other. However, it turns out that it becomes possible if the members of the group become tolerant of one another. I want to examine the relationship between tolerance and cooperation."

(Japanese original by Sachiko Miyakawa, Osaka City News Department)

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