Friday, July 09, 2010

Wild Cats Ape Monkey Prey

monkeySome wild cats can imitate the calls of their prey, according to a recent study in the journal Neotropical Primates. The study documents the first recorded instance of a wild cat species in the Americas mimicking sounds made by its prey.

The cat is called a margay. It does a near perfect audio impression of one of its favorite dinners: the pied tamarin monkey.

If anecdotal evidence is factored in, margays join jaguars, pumas and even domesticated house-cats as being felines that can copy sounds made by other animals. (If you've ever lived with a cat, you have probably heard it chatter away at birds, mice and other animals. The imitations likely weren't very good, but your kitty doesn't always have to sing for its supper.)

“Cats are known for their physical agility, but this vocal manipulation of prey species indicates a psychological cunning which merits further study,” said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Fabio Rohe.

He and his colleagues first recorded the phenomenon in 2005 when a group of eight pied tamarins were feeding in a ficus tree. The scientists then observed a margay emitting calls similar to those made by tamarin babies. This attracted the attention of a tamarin “sentinel,” which climbed down from the tree to investigate the sounds coming from a tangle of vines called lianas.


Full story here.
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