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Macaque monkeys at a Bali temple can spot expensive items to steal and ransom for food

January 13, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 70.5%. 1 min read.

Monkeys along the cliffs next to the Ulu Watu temple Pura Luhur. Bali. Uluwatu Temple is a Hindu temple set on the cliff bank in south part of Bali Peninsula. It is one of Sad Kahyangan Temple in Bali (six big groups of Bali Temples), located in Pecatu Village, Sub district of South Kuta, and Badung Regency or about 25 Km southerly part of Denpasar town. It is situated on the coral reef sordid to sea about 80 meters above the sea level. It is featured by a small dry forest which is mostly called by Alas Kekeran (interdict forest) which is belong to the temple and dwelt by a lot of monkeys and other animal. Name of Uluwatu was come from the word Ulu meaning the head and Watu meaning stone. Therefore Uluwatu Temple mean the temple built in tip of coral reef. In the right and left of temple building or Pelinggih Ida Bagus Ratu Jurit located in complex of Uluwatu Temple, there are two stone mangers that look like a boat. When both of it are united, hence it's look similar to sarcophagus, the famous stone from megalithic era culture. There is archaeology omission coming from 16 centuries in firm of arch or winged entrance gate. Winged entrance gate is one of the scarce archaeology omissions. Winged entrance gate that is existing in Uluwatu Temple (a period of its making) can be compared with the same one located in mosque complex in Sendangduwur Village, Lamongan, East Java. The period of its making is relevant with the year Candrasengkala found at this inscription. Candrasengkala founded in the mosque is written by the wording Gunaning Salira Tirta Hayu meaning year 1483 Saka or 1561 Masehi. If the sarcophagus that existing in Dalem Jurit complex area represents the artifact, hence Uluwatu Temple represents the place sanctified since era of megalithic culture (About 500 S.M). In papyrus of Usana Bali mentioned that Mpu Kuturan (The Hindu Priest who spread out the Hinduism in Bali) had built a lot of temple in this island and one of them Uluwatu Temple.

The well known phrase cheeky monkey has some basis in fact, if a new study on the behavior of the primates is anything to go by.

The paper, published in a Royal Society science journal, studied monkeys at Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia, who frequently steal items from humans -- such as bags, hats, sunglasses, tablets and phones -- and hold them to ransom in exchange for offerings of food.

It found adult wild long-tailed macaque monkeys were intelligent enough to comprehend which items had the highest value to the visitors, such as an electronic item, and would only release it after receiving food they perceived to be of corresponding value.

The authors said the behavior displayed "unprecedented economic decision-making processes" among the monkeys observed as part of the study.

The scientists, from the University of Lethbridge, Canada, and Udayana University, Indonesia, observed that, as well as being able to "use objects as symbolic tools to request specific food rewards," the ability of the monkeys to barter successfully increased with age and experience.

There were "clear behavioral associations between value-based token possession and quantity or quality of food rewards rejected and accepted by subadult and adult monkeys," the authors said, with older monkeys "preferentially" selecting higher value items.

The adult monkeys accumulated "several food rewards before returning the token" where the item was of high value, and were "more likely" to accept a "less preferred food reward" in exchange for a lower value item, the study said.

"Token-robbing and token/reward-bartering are cognitively challenging tasks for the Uluwatu macaques that revealed unprecedented economic decision-making processes," the authors said.

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