Hi everyone! I am EJP of EJPcreations. The items I make utilize design elements from a bygone time, to create modern, urban body ornaments. I am a mad scientist of a woman specializing in creating tiaras, necklaces, and fascinators, with a noir, and gothic flair. All adornments have a hint of vampire elegance, a dash of Steampunk bravado, and plenty of Neo-Victorian sensibilities. Here is my little blog to showcase some of my creations, the things that inspire me, as well as a scrapbook of curiosities that I have picked up in my wanderings across the web. ~ Please Enjoy …

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snow Monkeys

Primate Culture... Their innate curiosity leads them to try new things, but it’s their culture — the passing of information from one generation to the next — that teaches them much of what they know. Their young learn by reaching out with their hands to experience the world around them, grasping new objects, slowly piecing together an understanding of their society. They learn from their families how to find food, communicate, recognize kin, even use tools, medicine, and language.

Criteria for Cultural Behavior
Innovation: New pattern is invented or modified.
Dissemination: Pattern is acquired (through imitation) by another from an innovator.
Standardization: For of pattern is consistent and stylized.
Durability: Pattern is performed without presence of demonstrator.
Tradition: Pattern persists from innovator's generation to the next.
Nonsubsistence: Pattern transcends subsistence.
Naturalness: Pattern is shown in absence of direct human influence.

Japanese Macaque Cultural Behavior- This short clip from the film Life On Earth: Life In The Trees discusses one example (washing sweet potatoes) of the inventive behavior (or culture) of a troop of Japanese snow monkeys (species Macaca fuscata) living on the Japanese island of Koshima. In order to enhance viewing opportunities, primatologists put sweet potatoes along the beach to bring the monkeys out into the open. One macaque, named Imo, began to wash the sand off of her sweet potatoes in the water instead of brushing it off with her hand as other macaques did. Over time, this behavior spread to other members of the troop and was passed on from generation to generation. Interestingly, this potato washing behavior became even more modified as some macaques began washing their sweet potatos in salt water, even though they's already washed them in fresh water. Why they did this isn't clear, but perhpas they were attempting to enhance the potatoes' flavor.

Imo's second feat of genius was to develop a method for sorting wheat from sand. Imo discovered that rather than eat the wheat handouts grain by grain, a mixture of wheat and sand could be dropped in water allowing the wheat to float and the sand to sink. Within several years many of the younger monkeys practiced this behavior.

Many researchers in the Japanese forested mountains have also documented an unusual activity of the Japanese macaques. The animals know how to make tiny snowballs in their hands, using their opposable thumbs, and then roll them along the ground to create larger snowballs, much like human children do. While this behavior doesn't appear to have survival purpose, whole troops of Japanese macaques engage in the activity as a social process.

In 1979 a primatologist at the Primate Research Institute (PRI) at Kyoto University noticed one female monkey playing with stones. No one had ever seen, or heard about, anything like it. It was like a child playing with building blocks. When the primatologists returned to the site in 1983 he was astounded by what he saw. "Half the group was playing with stones, banging them on nearby roofs and making a total racquet," he said. "I couldn't understand why a behavior that seemed to have no adaptive significance—it didn't provide an edge for survival or reproduction—could spread through a group and be maintained in a society for so long."
When behaviors or innovations are adopted by other members of the group, passing from parent to offspring, infant to parent,or adult-to-adult, a "culture" or tradition is born. Culture and innovation are often ways of adapting to environmental changes, or a response to a change in lifestyle. Many cultural differences, independent of human interference, have been observed between monkey troops living around Japan. The troops differ in eating habits; for instance, monkeys in some regions eat bird's eggs. Social behaviors between macaques from disparate regions also vary; only in some troops do males engage in paternal care for infants. In other troops social rank is sharply defined; males behave more aggressively towards one another. After 50 years of observation, primatologists believe that macaques have an established culture: invented behaviors passed from one monkey to another.

Human culture is transmitted through language and the written word; individuals are taught in detail how to do something through teaching and imitation. With nonhuman primates like macaques, the learning process occurs through observation. Monkey culture is definitely not the same as human culture, said Hirata. But by studying the monkeys "we see an evolutionary basis for our culture," he said. "These monkeys are similar to humans because they take an interest in the behavior of other individuals—which is vital for the development of a culture." (From: http://arana.cabrillo.edu/~crsmith/MonkeyCulturalBehavior.html)


  1. Love the Japanese prints and the monkeys are awesome! Thanks so much for this post. Fascinating!

  2. Thank you so much ARTAFTERDARK! Your always so kind and supportive of my blog :D