Public tantrums defeat monkey moms too

Bystanders make rhesus macaque mom’s capitulation more likely

By Susan Milius, 16:21 PM March 10, 2009

Baby screams. Onlookers glower. Mom gives in — even when she’s a monkey.

Rhesus macaque mothers are about twice as likely to let a howling infant have its way during very public tantrums than during more private moments, says Stuart Semple of Roehampton University in London.

Not a bad decision on mom’s part. A baby rhesus monkey makes a high-pitched, grating shriek that Semple calls “pretty harsh stuff.” Onlookers get restless, and mom and the unhappy baby become 30 times more likely to su...

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