Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Boa Constrictor Seen Eating Howler Monkey in a First

If a snake eats a monkey in the forest and no one sees it, does it make a difference? New evidence suggests that it does.

For the first time, scientists have witnessed a boa constrictor attacking and eating a howler monkey. The finding is noteworthy since reports of primates being eaten by predators are relatively rare, according to the study, published this month in the journal Primates.

"This may cause us to rethink how vulnerable [these] primates are to predation," said Paul Garber, a primatologist at the University of Illinois, who wasn't involved in the study.

Vulnerable to predators
Predation does happen to primates and monkeys, particularly by snakes, large raptors and big cats — but it has not been witnessed very often, Garber told LiveScience. That's due in part to the fact that primates live in groups, wherein each member looks out for threats, providing "coordinated predator detection," he said. Primates also generally have good vision that enables them to spot would-be attackers. It's also possible that the presence of scientists watching primates helps drive predators away, he added.

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