5 Shocking Ways Monkeys Are Just as Dysfunctional as Us

#2. Monkeys Lie and Manipulate Each Other

We've told you before that many animals, including monkeys, possess an astounding range of calls to communicate and describe predators, which is how they can warn other members of their community when they see something dangerous lurking around. What we didn't mention is that some of them use this incredible ability to bullshit each other.

We can hardly blame capuchin monkeys of South America for being deceiving little bastards, because life for these poor guys is very much like being perpetually stuck in high school. The low-ranking monkeys are constantly having their food taken away by high-ranking jerks, and there's nothing they can do to stop this abuse from happening -- except lying their pants off.

The nose should have been a giveaway.

You see, when they find something tasty that they want to hold on to, the low-ranking monkeys will sometimes give a false warning shout to make everyone else haul ass, even the head monkeys, so they can eat without anyone bothering them. This is the equivalent of a high school nerd calling in a fake bomb threat so he can eat his fill of Jell-O cups in the cafeteria. Check out this video of a monkey who yells "snake" so that he doesn't have to share an egg:

When researchers noticed that the monkeys were doing this, they started performing some experiments, and they found that when they placed highly valued banana pieces near the monkeys, they were 10 times more likely to give out false alarms. Scientists still aren't sure if those monkeys actually understand that they are lying or if they simply learned to associate certain calls with getting more bananas for themselves, but the result is the same: All the other monkeys are getting conned out of their food.

"It was horrible, you guys. I've never seen a snake gulp down so many bananas."

Of course, this strategy involves some risks: Rhesus macaques, for example, punish members that are caught cheating the group out of food, presumably by tying their tails around their behinds and performing pantsless wedgies. In order to get away with it, these macaques would have to be capable of premeditated crime, but no monkey would be smart enough to do something like that, right?

#1. Monkeys Are Capable of Premeditated Crime

A few years ago, a group of researchers studying rhesus macaques in Puerto Rico were using lemons to see if the macaques could understand that one plus one equals two, for a study called "Monkeys: How Stupid Are They, Really?" However, when their lemons started disappearing, the researchers ended up proving something a lot more interesting: These macaques are master criminals, and they can even put themselves in the place of a human to avoid getting caught.

Monkeys may not understand addition, but they're pretty good at subtraction.

The researchers noticed that the macaques were systematically robbing them blind, snatching up the lemons every chance they got, to the point where they couldn't even finish the experiments they originally wanted to do. This proves that monkeys: A) really like lemons and B) fucking hate math. But beyond that, what surprised the researchers the most was that the macaques actually understood what the humans could see and hear and used this information to plan out their crimes.

For example, in one test, researchers placed fruit in two boxes: one had bells on it and the other didn't. The monkeys watched them being set up, so they knew which box made a sound when it was opened. As soon as the researchers turned their heads, the sneaky little bastards automatically went for the quieter box and stole the fruit.

Laurie Santos/yalescientific.org
"Look, behind you! It's Full House's John Stamos!"

Think about what this means: The macaques weren't just running in and stealing the food; they were actually thinking ahead, carefully considering what they knew about the humans and planning the theft in such a way that they didn't get caught. They were George Clooney in Ocean's Eleven and the researchers were Andy Garcia.

The experiments concluded that rhesus monkeys have the ability to deduce what others perceive based on where they're looking or what they're hearing. In other words, while the researchers were trying to study the monkeys, the monkeys were studying them. We're assuming that no one heard from those researchers again and they're now in some sort of makeshift monkey lab in the middle of the jungle.

All of these relatively recent discoveries are interesting to researchers, because by looking at the negative conduct of our primate cousins, we can also find out more about the roots of our own behavior and learn from that. So the next time someone at work accuses you of something you didn't do, just yell "snake," snort some coke and watch porn. It's only natural.

Monte writes comics for the monkeys over at RealToyGun.com, and you can check out his blog.

To better know more of our furry friends, check out 6 Insane Dog Behaviors Explained by Evolution and 6 Adorable Cat Behaviors With Shockingly Evil Explanations.

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