Japanese Macaques Fight Like B-Movie Villains

Illustration for article titled Japanese Macaques Fight Like B-Movie Villains

We've seen it a thousand times. An honest cop comes home from the job, and sees something is amiss. He runs to his wife's room and — no! Not Linda! Not his family! It's a plot so simple a monkey could have thought of it. And, as it turns out, a monkey did.


Japanese macaques are the famous "hot tub monkeys." No one could get enough of the cute little monkeys sitting in hot springs in the snow, acting like they were people. Then we found out that they really acted like they were people. They blocked each other's access to food. They forced certain members of the clan to the fringes of the group, where they were more likely to be eaten by predators. They even — and it sickens me to say this — denied certain members entry into the hot springs.

And later we found out that the spurned clan members weren't so nice either. In fact, they operated the way mustache-twirling drug kingpins operate in the movies. When an alpha male became aggressive with them, they couldn't fight back directly, so they went after the male's family. Researchers monitoring the activity of the group came to realize that, within an hour of an alpha male attack on a less dominant monkey in the group, about 25% of the time the less dominant monkey would attack a member of the alpha male's family. Three quarters of the time, they attacked his family member right in front of him.

The message is clear, step out of line and you may be safe, but anyone who shares your DNA is in trouble. Sometimes the alpha would then retaliate against the attacker, setting off another whole series of unpleasant incidents — or, in movie terms, sequels. But it's interesting to see that even monkeys understand how to make things personal.

In the comments, please leave posters or trailers of the sub-par action movie you'd most like to see remade with Japanese macaques. We know they can do it.

[Via Attacked Macaques Pick on Winner's Kin]



Because how it could it be any worse?