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Sentience

January 18, 2021 - Gizmodo

These Monkeys Understand Economics and Intentionally Steal High-Ticket Items to Barter

These Monkeys Understand Economics and Intentionally Steal High-Ticket Items to Barter
Bali Monkey© Photabulous!

Some of you all may be familiar with the crime ring of long-tailed macaque monkeys that reside around the Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia, who were thrust into infamy a few years ago for stealing from tourists and holding the ransom until they were paid in food. As if that visual weren’t mind-blowing enough, a new study has found that some of the monkeys intentionally steal items that are more valued by humans in order to get the best bounty.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Canada and Udayana University in Indonesia, the study found that the monkeys carried out “unprecedented economic decision-making processes” when they stole things and held them for ransom. The researchers stated that this practice—which has also been analyzed in similar studies with captive monkeys in the lab—is population-specific, prevalent, cross-generational, learned, and socially-influenced. It may be the first example of a culturally maintained token economy in free-ranging animals, they wrote.

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