Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Heat-Induced Lethargy

Yesterday, my monkeys and I were on the exact same page.  We both decided it would be a great idea to just sit...and stay seated most of the day.  Now, I'm not the betting kind, but I'd be willing to place money on the fact that yesterday was probably the hottest day of the field season thus far.  When we arrived at Yvaga Guazu around 11:30 AM, it was already blazing.  Like the 'walk 10 feet and you're already dripping with sweat' kind of hot.  I wasn't too thrilled to spend the next seven hours wandering through the forest/sauna and chasing titis.  I decided to make one quick loop around my territory and then head to a specific tree I had found them resting in on Monday.  This resting tree isn't exactly in the normal confines of GN territory, so it's not like this is a place I check often, but my gut told me to go for it.  So I did.  To my surprise and excitement, there they were!  My male (plus infant on his back), my female, and my juvenile all rested in a branch about 7-8 m up from the ground.  Praise. The. Lord.  Only 30 minutes into that scorcher of a day, and I'd already got my eyes locked in on the monkey prize.  BONUS: My monkeys found the coolest possible spot in the area.  Lots of shade, a nice constant breeze.  Those little guys are so smart.

Male resting with infant on his back.
So I propped up my backpack, laid down, and set up camp in the trail across from  what I have now aptly dubbed 'the lazy tree.'  Minutes turned to hours, and hours turned to more hours, but they sat tight.  No chance of heat exhaustion for my family!  They weren't going anywhere.  The trio rested in the same tree for about 4.5 hours, which gave me plenty of time to collect lots of data and observe lots of parental/juvenile/infant interactions.  I was able to watch my female nurse the infant about 4 or 5 times...each time initiated by the infant and each time for no more than 10 minutes.  I was also able to witness my juvenile carry the infant - a job usually reserved for dad.  But the itty bitty baby was a pretty big burden for such a young offspring, so the male took over baby duty after only a few minutes.  Mom also carried the little one yesterday.  It was after she had nursed, and she was walking along a branch headed back towards the male...most likely to get rid of her furry accessory.  All of a sudden she slipped and fell off the branch!  With the baby!!  My heart skipped a beat when I thought she'd fallen all the way to the forest floor.  Luckily she caught herself on a lower limb.  The male came immediately to her, she quickly regained her composure, and they made their way back up to their original perch....this time with dad carrying the infant.

Juvenile hanging out in 'the lazy tree'. 
Around 4:30, all three titis left their resting tree and headed back towards the main part of their territory.  A little resting here and there, a little more nursing, and a little foraging on some Lauraceae fruits, and my day with my monkey family was over.  A good day with lots of data.  Bueno.

Titi foraging in the sunset.
FUN SCIENCE FACT #11: The surface area of a human lung is equal to the size of a tennis court.  Yep.  That's a lot of surface area.

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