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?
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.
"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.