The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

Object preferences and the function of object play behavior in a provisioned troop of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) at Wat Khao Takieb, Thailand


1Department of Anthropology, Texas State University, 2Department of Biology, Chulalongkorn University

April 14, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Object play is characterized by the playful manipulation of inanimate objects. While object play has been examined in Macaca fascicularis in Bali, Indonesia, no reports exist regarding object play in M. fascicularis in Thailand. Object play behavior is of interest to researchers because it is posited to be a possible precursor to tool use. Object manipulation has been studied at sites along the Andaman Sea in Thailand, where unprovisioned troops of M. fascicularis use tools for processing shellfish; however no study has reported observations of object play. We collected data from July 1st to August 15th 2015 at Wat Khao Takieb, a temple site with provisioned long-tailed macaques in Prachuabkirikhan Province, Thailand. We divided the temple area into eight sections for the purpose of collecting observational samples. We utilized an all-occurrence sampling technique to collect object play data and recorded the duration of object manipulation time on each occasion it was observed in the designated section. Data collection lasted for 15 minutes per section and was video recorded with an Olympus OM-D E-M5. The most notable types of objects used in object play were stones, plastic bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles, leaves, sticks, and glass shards. We discuss the possible functions of object play behavior in long-tailed macaques at Wat Khao Takieb and how it may differ from conclusions in the existing literature on object play in other long-tailed macaque troops. Additionally, we discuss the possibility of tool-use occurring in long-tailed macaques prior to provisioning at the temple.