Re: Macaque culture was: Dawkins' Mutation Test for Replicators

Bill Spight (
Mon, 30 Aug 1999 11:15:52 -0700

Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 11:15:52 -0700
From: Bill Spight <>
Subject: Re: Macaque culture was: Dawkins' Mutation Test for Replicators

Dear Derek,

Sorry to bore everybody yet again on this subject, but the rhesus monkey
potato washing trick was taught to them by their keeper.


What keeper?


There is no evidence of any imitative behaviour among these monkeys. The whole legend that has arisen around these famous Japanese monkeys is well... just a legend.


You mean the 100th monkey legend?


Again sorry to keep repeating myself in this pedantic manner, but the potato-washing monkey culture example keeps cropping up here as it it were a true story ....


Derek, you do not strike me as pedantic at all. (But then I referred to a Latin quotation of Isaac Newton's <g>.)

Where are you getting your information? Pedantic repetition: Reference:

Nishida, T. 1987. Local Traditions and Cultural Transmission. In Primate Societies, eds. B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham, and T.T. Struhsaker. University of Chicago Press.

I have been relying on secondary sources, including this one: "The phenotypic effects of a meme may be in the form of words, music, visual images, styles of clothes, facial or hand gestures, skills such as opening milk bottles in tits, or panning wheat in Japanese macaques." (P. 109 of "The Extended Phenotype" by Dawkins, paperback edition, 1983.)

Has Nishida been debunked?


Bill "Tio Macaca" Spight

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