The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Dusky Leaf-Monkey - Issue Four
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The Dusky Leaf-monkey, photo from Christian Artuso

Dusky Leaf Monkey
The average body mass for an adult male dusky leaf-monkey is around 8.30 kilograms, and for the female it is around 6.5 kilograms. The dusky leaf-monkey lives in the countries of Burma, Malaysia and Thailand. They prefers to live in closed primary forests, but are also found in old-growth secondary forests, plantation forests, and urban forests. They spend most of their time in the upper canopy levels of the forest, where they consume leaves, although they will also consume fruit and flowers. Social play in the dusky leaf-monkey includes wrestling, sham-biting, jumping on or over, chasing, fleeing, and tail pulling.




Response to a Thread


Christiano Artuso

Engrained in our psyche is the notion that our intelligence separates us from other animals. Indeed, that type of reasoning is oftentimes used as a premise to exploit or mistreat animals. The scientific community is not exempt from this type of value judgment and has shown extreme resistance to hypotheses regarding animal intelligence, even when the evidence was rigorously collected and "intelligence" as an evolutionary trait derived from a stimulating/challenging environment was the most parsimonious explanation. One example that has stayed with me is of a zoology professor who designed a course entitled "cognitive ethology" only to be told by various naysayers that this was a contradiction in terms. Another is the enormous resistance to the idea that Alex the African Grey Parrot might be demonstrating intelligence when he invented words, used humour, insisted on changing the question when the mathematical problems presented to him were too boringly simple, and "trained" his handlers. Along with the apes of the African savannah, Alex's ancestor's needed more than instincts to find seasonally fluctuating resources and avoid predators. Those who achieved reproduction did so through years of acquired cultural understanding that kept them alive. Endangered parrots bred in captivity and released into the wild will not survive… unless, that is, they have the opportunity to learn from wild parrots about their world.

A Northern Hawk Owl was recently observed on Vancouver Island stripping the cones from the top of a pine tree and dropping them into the snow at the base of the tree. Those who dared to suggest that this owl was trying to bait rodents were quickly told by voices with a pretence greater authority that such forethought would be beyond the cognitive ability of the owl.

Here in Manitoba, and elsewhere, oblivious photographers have been observed baiting Northern Hawk Owls with a fur ball pulled across the snow by a thread. This attracts the owls to the roadside where many will later be killed by vehicles. Owls who approach photographers in this way are sometimes rewarded with a live mouse and have thus "learnt" that a car stopped on the road shoulder may mean food. On two recent occasions, when I stopped by a Northern Hawk Owl in a popular bird watching area and got out with a camera around my neck, the owl flew right in, landed near the car, and "observed" me. Maybe I looked like a photographer?

I would ask, just who is the intelligent being in this case?

Born in Montreal, and currently residing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Christiano's educational background is diverse, with a BA in Chinese, an MA in linguistics, and a PhD in Environmental Science. Christiano works for Bird Studies Canada as their Manitoba Projects Manager and sits on the board of Nature Manitoba. He has published articles on Manitoba's avifauna and recently received the Cliff Shaw Award for outstanding contributions to the Blue Jay. Christiano is passionate about conservation and committed to public outreach, regularly giving presentations at venues ranging from schools to scientific conferences. Christiano enjoys traveling and wildlife photography. You can follow his work at his photo site and his blog.

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