Monkeys first to discover power of social networking
Squirrel monkeys discovered the power of social networking long before the birth of Facebook and Twitter, a study has shown.
In a series of experiments, scientists identified "trendster" monkeys with the strongest social networks who were quickest to catch on to new foraging crazes.
The researchers presented the monkeys with artificial "fruits" that could be opened in one of two different ways.
A pair of alpha males from two monkey populations were each trained in a different method and then allowed to spread the word among their group mates.
Monkeys with stronger social network connections within the groups picked up the new techniques more successfully, the scientists found.
Professor Andrew Whiten, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, who led the research reported in the journal 'Current Biology', said: "Our study shows that innovations do not just spread randomly in primate groups but, as in humans, are shaped by the monkeys' social networks."
The scientists now plan to look for evidence of different "subcultures" within the monkey social networks.