Monkeys Teach Their Young to Floss

'Monkey see, monkey floss' behavior surprises scientists
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2009 4:12 AM CDT

Monkeys in Thailand have been filmed apparently teaching good oral hygiene to their young, the BBC reports. Macaque mothers living in an urban area north of Bangkok were seen flossing with strands of human hair, and doing so with slower, more exaggerated movements when their infants were watching. Researchers—amazed at the monkeys' human-like teaching of tool use—now plan to study the infants to see if the lessons stuck.

"I was surprised because teaching techniques on using tools properly to a third party are said to be an activity carried out only by humans," said a researcher. "We would like to shift our focus to the baby monkeys to check whether the mothers' actions are effectively helping them learn how to clean their teeth." (More Thailand stories.)

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