As I’ve always stated, Punkeys have a keen knack of deception and trickery. This excerpt on an article at MSNBC.com backs me up:

“Some of the primates like to tease other individuals and make fun of them,” he told me. “Possibly they’re the only animals that do this – poke fun at others just for the fun of it. Young animals do it to adults. It’s not really deceptive. It’s more like teasing behavior.”

Chimps and other apes also seem to be adept at deceiving each other for societal advantage, Maestripieri said.

“The deception, when it’s intentional, is something that comes with other complex cognitive skills. It’s what people call ‘theory of mind,'” he said. “To be able to deceive someone else implies the ability to know that they think, they believe. That’s something that only the higher primates have.”


For example, female chimps (and even rhesus monkeys) will sneak around to have sex with younger males when the senior, dominant male isn’t looking. A lone chimp will fool the others in its troop to save a cache of food all for itself.

This is not unlike many of the dating reality shows on TV. Someday they’ll really get real about reality TV and just have a show called “Whore.” You heard it here first.

Some research has linked the capacity for deception with brain size – and specifically the size of the neocortex, the area of the brain involved in higher-level thought.

“It seems that primates that have a larger brain engage in deception more than others,” Maestripieri said. “But I have to tell you this is controversial, because when you study deception, you’re studying a series of anecdotes. What might look like [intentional] deception to one researcher wouldn’t look like that to another.”

Richard Byrne, an evolutionary psychologist at St. Andrews University in Scotland, agrees that it’s hard to judge whether primate deception qualifies as intentional foolery – let alone the kind of April Fools’ prankishness so familiar to humans.

“To find a prank funny, one needs to understand how the world looks through other people’s eyes – so that you can fully appreciate how stupid they must be feeling by now!” he wrote in an e-mail. “Technically called ‘theory of mind,’ that’s just what most primate deception lacks.

“The interesting thing in my primate evidence is that, even so, primates do use deception a lot, to achieve their own ends, presumably without having any idea how their victims feel,” he continued. “Instead, they learn the tactics by experience. They just find out what works and – since they learn very fast in social contexts – only need one hint and they have got the trick.”

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times:

NEVER TRUST A MONKEY!

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