Animal behaviour

Videos teach tricks to wild monkeys

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Wild monkeys can learn new behaviours by watching instructional videos — a feat that had previously been accomplished only in the laboratory.

Tina Gunhold at the University of Vienna and her collaborators recorded video of two captive marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) as they opened a box to retrieve a reward, either by popping open a lid or by pulling out a drawer. The team then placed the same type of box on a tree branch in a Brazilian forest, next to a laptop screen showing the videos (pictured).

Tina Gunhold

Of the 108 wild animals studied, only 12 succeeded in the task, but 11 of those had watched the video. Most of the successful animals used the same technique they had seen in the video.

Biol. Lett. 10, 20140439 (2014)


  1. Report this comment #64051

    David Gurwitz said:

    This study is a fine example that video materials should be used more often for medical education.

  2. Report this comment #64121

    Will Atkinson said:

    It would be good to know the breakdown of video watching in those that failed the task. Only then would we be able to judge the effectiveness of the training.

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