Monkey social networks ‘help spread trends’

Squirrel monkeys were used in the study.  Picture: Neil Hanna
Squirrel monkeys were used in the study. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Squirrel monkeys discovered the power of social networking long before the birth of Facebook and Twitter, a study has shown.

In a series of experiments, scientists from the University of St Andrews identified “trendster” monkeys with the strongest social networks who were quickest to catch on to new foraging crazes.

The researchers presented the monkeys with artificial “fruits” that could be opened in one of two different ways. A pair of alpha males from two monkey populations were each trained in a different method and then allowed to spread the word among their group mates.