The culture of Japanese Macaques

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The Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata) is known for bathing in hot springs while all around, in the cold Japanese mountains, it’s snowing and cold. This is its most famous behaviour, but not its only one.

In the 1990s, a researcher noticed that a female Macaque in a study group had developed the habit of washing her food (usually potatoes) before she ate it instead of just brushing it off as was usual for this group. In a short while, all the monkeys in that group were washing their food in freshwater, and some would also then dip it in saltwater. For taste, some people hypothesise. Now, all Macaques that are born learn this behaviour and put it into effect, then teaching their offspring: it is, by definition, a cultural trait. Culture, born and developed under researchers eyes!

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Another interesting behaviour that these Macaques show is…playing. Ok, nothing new here. But playing with snowballs? Extremely cute!

Here are some photos I found on the internet. Nope, I haven’t been to see them yet, but hopefully I’ll manage someday!

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