Friday, November 17, 2006

Monkey Business: South Indian monkeys are civilised and cultured

November 17, 2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 16: South Indian monkeys are more "civilised" and "cultured" than their counterparts in north India and maintain a closely knit family relationship within their groups.
According to Dr Leonard A Rosemblum, professor in the department of psychiatry, State University of New York, scientific research on and close behavioural observations of Indian monkeys for the past 50 years reveal that simians down the Vindhyas are "smart" primates and resemble human beings in certain family customs like adopting orphan babies.
"When a mother monkey dies leaving her feeding infant, other monkeys in the group adopt the baby. This practice is seen in monkeys in South India. But the monkeys in north India simply abandon such orphans leaving them to fend for themselves," says Dr Leonard, who is also an expert on sexual and family behaviour of non-human primates.
He is currently in the city in connection with arrangements for an international conference on sex, its myths and traditions scheduled for January.
Dr Leonard told this correspondent that south Indian monkeys are more "caring" and look after the needs of other members in the group. But in the case of north Indian monkeys such a trait is wanting. "A possible explanation for this unique difference is that while monkeys in south India bred among the groups, the male members in north Indian monkeys leave the group after attaining maturity to breed outside the
group. Thus, monkeys in a group in south India are related to one another. Since male monkeys in north India leave the group, the group members are not related," he points out.
South Indian monkeys take care of the orphans in the group as they are uncles or aunts or first or second cousins. Moreover, female monkeys in the south are shy in nature while those in the north take the sexual initiative during the breeding season.
Dr Leonard has been carrying out experiments on Indian Rhesus monkeys, Bonnet Macaque and other species both in India and at his laboratory in the USA for over five decades. "The Indian monkeys teach us (humans) the sexual function and dysfunction. Almost every form of sexual and marital behaviour found in humans is noticed in monkeys. The Indian monkeys with a gestation period of five months
and 15 days plan pregnancy in such a way that the delivery period falls during monsoon, when the trees are lush green with lot of fruits for extra nutritious diet for mother and good milk for the infant," he said.
Interestingly, the south Indian monkeys are relatively "moral" with less incidence of unnatural sexual behaviour. "Like human beings, monkeys generally have female-female, male-male and male-female relationship.
They also have oral sex and masturbation. But this is not widespread in the south," Dr Leonard observed. While north Indian monkeys have a prolonged intercourse, ejaculation in south Indian monkeys takes place with a single entry. In Bonabo
species (north Indian monkey) sex is not always for pregnancy but quite often for calming down the hot tempers. In south Indian monkeys intercourse is mainly for procreation. Males in north Indian monkeys are highly ambitious and competitive while those in the south adopt a high social structure.