Scientists Discover Monkeys ‘Fishing’: The World Has Hope!!


I have at times jumped, head first, into conversations with people concerning certain ‘scientific’ discoveries here at this blog. Well, a new discovery has just come to light: Fishing Monkeys Discovered in Indonesia. I am intrigued. So I read. And I saw:

BANGKOK, Thailand – Long-tailed macaque monkeys have a reputation for knowing how to find food — whether it be grabbing fruit from jungle trees or snatching a banana from a startled tourist.

Now, researchers say they have discovered groups of the silver-haired monkeys in Indonesia that fish.

Groups of long-tailed macaques were observed four times over the past eight years scooping up small fish with their hands and eating them along rivers in East Kalimantan and North Sumatra provinces, according to researchers from The Nature Conservancy and the Great Ape Trust.

The species had been known to eat fruit and forage for crabs and insects, but never before fish from rivers.

So what happens is these monkeys get hungry and cannot find a frightened tourist to steal a banana from so they go to the river and catch a fish or two or three and eat. I’m justing willing to bet that if these scientists hung around long enough, and sat in the right spots, at the right times of day, they might actually catch these monkeys taking these fish back to their ‘houses’, filleting them, throwing them on the grill with some lime and beer batter, inviting over a few friends and having a nice evening of badminton and home movies and singing, “Here’s to Good Friends.”

You know, what amazes me is that this is a) scientific and b) a ‘discovery.’ Is there anyone on the planet who sits around wondering, “Hmmm…I wonder if monkeys in Indonesia ever go fishing?” Or, “I wonder what pound test line they use?” Or, “I wonder a monkey ever says, ‘Let me tell you the story of the one that got away.'” Seriously.

Well, I will believe this is actually ‘fishing’ when I hear tales of these monkeys breaking out with the bait and tackle and small bass boats, tooling around Lake Toba wearing funny hats stuck with lures, drinking beer at 5 AM, and swapping stories about the war. Until then, these are hungry monkeys looking for food wherever they can get it. I don’t think what they are doing can reasonably be called ‘fishing.’

On a related note, I seriously need to rethink my life. At some point I decided, “Yes, preaching is for me.” But now I find out that people actually consider it ‘work’ to discover that four times in eight years monkeys in Indonesia go ‘fishing,’ and then write ‘scientific’ papers about their discoveries?!? And what’s worse, if they have discovered this four times in eight years, why are we just hearing about it now? Damn! Someone should have informed the public a long, long time ago because maybe, just maybe, this has something to do with global warming. I think I chose the wrong line of work. Just to clarify, here’s what a couple of the ‘scientists’ have said about this ‘discovery:’

“It’s exciting that after such a long time you see new behavior,” said Erik Meijaard, one of the authors of a study on fishing macaques that appeared in last month’s International Journal of Primatology. “It’s an indication of how little we know about the species.”

* * *

“They are a survivor species, which has the knowledge to cope with difficult conditions,” Meijaard said Tuesday. “This behavior potentially symbolizes that ecological flexibility.”

* * *

Agustin Fuentes, a University of Notre Dameanthropology professor who studies long-tailed macaques, or macaca fascicularis, on the Indonesian island of Bali and in Singapore, said he was “heartened” to see the finding published because such details can offer insight into the “complexity of these animals.”

“It was not surprising to me because they are very adaptive,” he said. “If you provide them with an opportunity to get something tasty, they will do their best to get it.”

*  *  *

Rocket scientists these are not. And yet, these people are getting paid to say this stuff. I never cease to be amazed at the meaningless things people do for a living. I hope that this discovery of ‘fishing monkeys’ will help cure AIDS, feed hungry children Darfur, end Islamic terrorism, end the Iraq war, end child abuse in America, end televangelism in the US, etc. I mean, if the discovery of ‘fishing monkeys’ does non of these things, then of what possible good or help could this information, this knowledge, this fount of wisdom be?

I hope one of the authors of the study publishes a second paper titled: Fishing Monkeys: Their Contribution to the Progress of the Human Race, Their Value in Bringing about Global Peace, and Their Place in Global Politics with Special Emphasis on Their Place in Current Anthropological Studies Concerning Why Human Beings are So Bent on Destroying One Another with Bombs, Disease, Abuse, Drugs, War, and Televangelists: A Response to Detractors.

Now that’s a paper I would read. And one that a monkey could write (of course given enough time, and enough typewriters, paper, and enough friends also working on the same project).



  1. Samuel Skinner

    Do not ever underestimate the curiosity of scientists… and the weird questions they ask.

    It isn’t fishing as much as eating fish.

    It falls under the field of physical anthropology. It has little to no practical information. Alot of science is like that. It does answer questions however. For example, all of astronomy is entirely useless for any practical pupose. Heck, the Apollo program had no practical use. Or art for that matter. Or museums… alot of stuff has not practical purpose.

    But we value knowledge for its own sake- at least some of us do. It might be useful (like spotting asteroids) or possibly useful- mostly it is nice to know.

  2. Samuel,

    I think it is a bit of a stretch to suggest that ‘all of astronomy is entirely useless.’ A wee bit of hyperbole there methinks.


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