Monday, 11 June 2018

Just like humans, these monkeys can plan their routes—but most prefer not to

June 4, 2018 by Don Campbell, University of Toronto

They might not have mastered GPS technology, but vervet monkeys can solve multi-destination routes in the same way humans do.

A new U of T Scarborough study published in the journal PLOS ONE has found that when foraging for foodvervet monkeys apply simple rules-of-thumb (also known as heuristics) to find relatively short routes without having to think too much about it.

"People are amazed that animals can often find the shortest route when foraging for food, and the big question is how they're able to figure it out," says lead author Julie Teichroeb, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at U of T Scarborough.

"Solving these kinds of routes is extremely difficult mathematically but we've found that these monkeys, much like us, rely on heuristics."

Heuristics are basically mental shortcuts meant to ease the cognitive burden of making complex decisions. While these decisions may not be perfect or even the most ideal, they get the job done. After all, getting paralyzed trying to choose from the infinite number of ways to get to several destinations has many costs, especially when trying to locate food.

Monkeys in particular seem to be good at figuring out the shortest route right away without needing much time or practice, says Teichroeb. In the case of vervets, they often end up using a method that humans use called the "nearest neighbour rule," which is essentially choosing the closest site that hasn't been visited yet.

Teichroeb and her co-author Eve Smeltzer, a Ph.D. student in U of T's Department of Anthropology, observed the vervets at Lake Nabugabo in Uganda, near Lake Victoria.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails