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The snow monkeys of Japan live further north
than any other nonhuman primate.
And one troop has become downright famous
because they're the only monkeys in the world
to spend hours in the winter soaking in hot springs.
Only recently, scientists have started investigating
the behavior of the macaques.
But before we get to that, here's a brief history
of how a group of macaques developed the hot tub habit
in the first place.
Macaques live all over Japan.
But this group's home is near Nagano,
where the winter temperatures are often below freezing,
but the landscape is sprinkled with natural hot springs.
But it wasn't until 1963,
so the story goes, that a monkey first joined human visitors
in a hotel bathing pool.
Of course, one macaque in the pool
soon became many macaques, which upset the humans.
The solution: build a park and hot spring bathing pools
just for the monkeys.
Happy monkeys, happy humans.
The macaques soon became an attraction,
drawing more attention and more visitors
to the mountains of Nagano.
Back to the present.
Researchers are now focusing on why the monkeys bathe.
Probably to stay warm, but that's just an assumption.
Since cold causes stress, increasing levels of hormones
called glucocorticoids,
scientists tested levels of these hormones in the monkeys.
They didn't draw blood or collect saliva.
They collected and tested feces.
And since the monkeys are so used to human tourists,
they paid no attention to the researchers.
As suspected, stress levels were lower during periods
when the macaques were bathing.
Interestingly, the higher-ranking females
had more access to the pool and more time bathing.
Takeshita herself found a kind of nonscientific inspiration
in the monkey bathing.
Many times after coming back from the field
I would go to hot springs.
They also show how a small group of animals
can develop a unique behavior, their own kind of culture,
passed down from generation to generation.
I wonder what they think about while they soak.


なぜ日本のサルは温泉に入るの? (The Story Behind Japan’s Bathing Monkeys | ScienceTake)

62 タグ追加 保存
Mayu Okuuchi 2020 年 2 月 12 日 に公開
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