Vol 7, Issue 2, May 2020

Listening to the Appeal from the Wild


Boesch, C. (2020). Listening to the appeal from the wild. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 7(2), 257-263. doi: https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


Fashion in science is like in other domains, it is strongly influenced by what we would call nowadays “influencers” that set the scene to start a new trend. In this sense, the “Vervet Monkey Alarm Calls” paper was an “influencer” and gave to many of the younger generation the strength to embark in the study of animal cognition in the wild. The very precise experimental procedures adopted in the paper, eliminating step-by-step the alternatives and finishing by proposing fascinating new insights into the “Monkey Mind” has enthralled cohorts of researchers and provided strong support for two propositions: First, you can do cognitive research on wild animals, and second, monkeys are smarter than you think! However, influencers are not always strong enough to change the field and, in my opinion, animal cognition research would greatly profit from a renewed interest in the approach pioneered by the “Vervet Monkey Alarm Call.”


Cognition, Field work, Captive experiments, Ontogeny, Environment, Sociality