Friday, October 14, 2011

What's in a GName?

The other day, whilst meandering through my territory, I became increasingly aware of the fact that I've been blogging on and on about GN (my monkey family), and I've never even taken the time to introduce you to them.  My apologies.  So here it goes....a brief introduction to all the members of the GN clan.

GN is the official name of my titi monkey group.  Don't ask me how or why they're called that.  I honestly don't know.  What I do know is that they are adorable and I love them.  There are six individuals that make up GN: Daniel (male = daddy), Carmen (female = mommy), Kuara (subadult = oldest offspring), Jasy (subadult = next oldest offspring), Esperanzo (juvenile = last year's baby), and of course our almost-named little infant titi.  All the monkey have meaningful names.  Daniel and Carmen were named after photographers/dear friends of the Titi Monkey Project, whose names, clearly, are Daniel and Carmen.  Kuara and Jasy were named after a pair of brothers from an old Guarani legend.  I'll let the project's blog ( explain it..."In one version, the brothers, having grown tired of their adventures on earth, one day sought to touch that expansive ceiling that hung so far above them - that is, the sky.  At this early point in time, there was no difference between day and night.  The sky was white, and everything was grey, and life was difficult for humans.  Undaunted, the clever siblings shot a series of arrows upward, one by one, until it formed a long rope with which they could climb.  Their father, who had created them and was watching them from above, was quite impressed with their antics.  When little Jasy, who had climbed first, reached out to touch the sky, he was immediately transformed into the moon.  In trying to rescue his brother, the elder Kuara reached out and in that moment was transformed into the sun.  The brothers have chased each other across the sky ever since, though neither one will ever catch up to the other."  So yeah that's that.  Esperanzo (Spanish for "I give hope") was named by a previous research assistant, who followed GN last fall.  And then we have this year's baby....whose name is up to me.  It's nearly official.  I'll keep you posted.  

One big happy titi family

Even though GN is a relatively big titi monkey family, these past few weeks it has become a rare occurrence to see all five (six, if you include the infant) together in the same place at the same time.  It is, however, very common to see the male, female, and juvenile - Daniel, Carmen, Esperanzo - hanging out and relaxing and foraging together at most times of the day.  And I would say with confidence that the male carries our new infant about 85% of the time.  Other times, the infant is nursing with the female.  Plus there's also the few random occasions when the little baby climbs onto the juvenile's back.  But that never lasts long.  That baby may be tiny, but the juvenile isn't much bigger...little Esperanzo usually passes younger sibling back to dad after only a minute or so.

Daniel carrying the infant

The GN male, Daniel, is by far my favorite of the group.  At the beginning of the season (when we were unsure if GN was G4 and vice versa), I started calling him Mufasa because of his red color and fluffy "mane."  Also I just really like "The Lion King."  At first, he didn't trust me.  At all.  He would do everything in his power to steer clear of me and my binoculars.  His favorite trick was to climb down to a lower level in the canopy and disappear into a viney thicket...clearly out of my visual reach.  Eventually, I gained his trust.  Or his apathy.  Not sure which exactly.  But either way, he doesn't seem to mind me or my binoculars or my camera now, even coming down to rest on a relatively low branch.  Perfect photo op - thanks Dan!

Taking a break on a low limb

Carmen is a different story.  She still doesn't seem to like me too much, despite the fact that we've been spending so much time together recently.  5-7 hours a day, 5 days a think she would've warmed up to me by now.  I'm sure I'll win her over eventually.  She spends the majority of her time with her male and juvenile, but it's not unusual to find her foraging solo in a Cecropia tree.  Hey girl, I totally get it - a woman needs her alone time, especially with a new baby in the house.  Do what ya gotta do, Carmen.  We'll be besties by December.

Carmen and her juvenile 

Our little titi juvenile, Esperanzo, is always curious.  Coming down from the tree tops to look at me, jumping back and forth between branches right above my head, staring at me for extended periods of time.  Such a cutie.  Always wanting to play with mom and dad, never wanting to sit still and be groomed, this little monkey has a big personality.  Most times, he sticks pretty close to the male and female, but there have been a few times of solo exploration...never straying too far though.  There was one instance, when our male/female/juvenile trio was foraging on some Lauraceae fruits, and Daniel and Carmen continued down the trail without the little juvenile noticing.  They went all the way down past the soccer fields and across the fence before Esperanzo realized his parents were gone!  Pobrecito!  After a few desperate vocalizations on the part of the juvenile, mom and dad came back over the fence into Yvaga Guazu, and the reunited family happily rested in one of their favorite trees.

Crazy little Esperanzo...

The two GN subadults, Kuara and Jasy (known in my field notes as Kahlua and Jazzy J), are still a little bit of a mystery.  I barely ever see them!  I've probably seen them only 2-3 times with the rest of the family.  Most days they are off on their own doing their own thing.  I've seen them sneak off into G4 territory a few times, but I haven't followed them yet to see what they're doing over there.  During the morning vocalizations, I can often hear the subadults close by, calling simultaneously with the male and female.  One time, I witnessed what I have now dubbed 'tri-vocalizing.'  So this 'tri-vocalizing' occurred during the peak of YG monkey chatter.  I could see all my monkeys - a rare occurrence in itself.  They were all relatively spaced out, my male and female about 20 m from my oldest subadult and about 20 m from the other subadult and juvenile.  A titi triangle, if you will. ALL the other groups were vocalizing - G4, GE, G1, G2, and all those other G's back there.  My oldest subadult, Kuara/Kahlua was the first to vocalize from GN, followed shortly thereafter by the male/female, and then by Jasy/Jazzy J (our little juvy Esperanzo stayed quiet).  One family vocalizing from three different locations -- tri-vocalizing.

It's only been four or so weeks of official data collection, but I'm already in love with GN.  Even though I don't get to see everyone all the time (Kahlua and Jazzy J - I'm talkin' to you), who and what I do get to see is both highly entertaining and educational.  Plus I can't wait to watch my little baby monkey grow up.  Because that little baby is absolutely adorable.  

After a long morning of foraging...

FUN SCIENCE FACT #15:  There are 60,000 miles (97,000 km) of blood vessels in the human body.  Woah buddy that's a lot of blood vessels.

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