Are monkeys smart?
Grooming behaviour in monkeys is considered evidence that monkeys can think in terms of profit, loss and social patterns. It is assumed that monkeys use their intelligence for this and are calculating.
According to theoretical biologist Hemelrijk of Groningen University, monkeys are intelligent but not by far as smart as is usually assumed. The grooming behaviour of monkeys was investigated with a computer model. Hemelrijk discovered that monkeys automatically groom the group member that is closest by when they are afraid to lose a fight.
This can hardly be called conscious behaviour and it clearly does not involve any trading or reconciliation behaviour. Monkeys groom each other because they simply want to groom, Hemelrijk states. There is hardly any rational motivation behind this behaviour.
The computer model that was designed by the research group in Groningen can also be used to analyse group behaviour of other animal species, such as swarms of starlings.