Friday, October 21, 2011

True Life: I'm a Scientist

Spotted my monkey family right away this morning.  A quick meal on some Cecropia fruits, then a few jumps across one of the main trails before moving deeper into the foresty half of their territory.  Typical AM routine.  Today, however, my male and female ventured further than's not unheard of for them to visit these trees, but I typically find them much closer to the trail.  After following them for only a few minutes, a strange male (I'm assuming it's a male due to it's copper coloration) titi approached my group, followed closely by another smaller, grayer individual.  The reddish male displayed an arched back - a classic sign of titi aggression - and my male, female, and juvenile hastily retreated.  Around 6:10 AM, the two unidentified titis began to vocalize, and GN's male and female responded at 6:15 AM with a little "waka waka" type call.  Only a few minutes into their vocalization, my male began to move towards the strange monkeys.  The female followed, but the juvenile stayed behind (which was to be expected...since my juvenile rarely, if ever, vocalizes with his parents).  Both groups terminated the bouts around 6:19 AM, ending only about 5 m from each other.  A arched back from my male sent them running.  Clearly these titi groups are staking claim to their territory, but who are these two other monkeys?  I actually ran into these two yesterday morning while on the search for my own group.  I've mentioned before that GN's two older offspring are normally separate from their parents and baby siblings, so naturally my first impression was that I had come across GN's lost boys.  After today I'm convinced these two are not them.  Why would there be aggressive behavior displayed within the family unit?  The few times I have seen the subadults interact with my normal group (male, female, juvenile), the behaviors were anything but aggressive.  In one instance, they joined forces to vocalize and defend GN territory.  If these two are my other offspring - which I still very much doubt - it would be strange to witness such a drastic change in temperament in such a relatively short time.

For about the next thirty minutes, my male/female duo and my nameless monkey pair vocalized back and forth.  And evidently they worked out all that needed to be worked, because long about 6:45 AM, my female led her male and juvenile back across the main trail towards the landscaped portion of their territory, away from these intruders.  Vocalizing along the way, GN led me to the other territorial extreme, where my male and female continued to call in the direction of GE (a neighboring titi family).  Before this week, I would've told you that was weird.  But after a brief scuffle with GE on Wednesday, I have a feeling GN vocalizing in GE's general direction will become the norm.

Male, juvenile, and female

After securing all borders, my male, female, and juvenile settled down to feed on some Lauraceae fruits and some red Fabaceae flowers.  A busy morning full of odd encounters and twice as much vocalizing is exhausting, so my titi family spent the rest of the morning lounging around in some of their usual resting trees.  The female nursed the infant, the male groomed the female, and the juvenile played with the male.  Just another day in the life.  Also, watching my male and juvenile play is absolutely precious.  Our little infant even got in on the playing action.  Slowly, but surely, that tiny monkey is becoming more and more curious and independent.  It's no longer unusual to find the little one resting on the branch next to mom and dad (as opposed to resting on the male's back), or climbing around and exploring the nearby branches.

Male with infant

My days are full of monkey adventures.  I love it.  Well...I don't love not being able to find my monkeys some days, and I also don't love the 40+ bug bites I found on my legs this afternoon.  Just another perk of field work!  Today is my official 7 week-iversary...which means I have reached the halfway point of my Bolivian journey.  Time is flying.  To my titi family - let's savor these last few weeks together.  I'll miss your furry faces when I'm gone.  And to my beautiful basset Rosie - I miss you so much!  But don't worry, I'll be home soon.  And then we can cuddle, and go on long walks, and cuddle some more, and eat string cheese together.  And then after that we can cuddle.


FUN SCIENCE FACT #16: The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds. It's okay chickens, you're good at other things...

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