The common marmoset is a social monkey that lives in Brazil. They form small family groups and have a defined territory. Parents, aunts, uncles and older siblings all help to raise the young.
The researchers set up a compartment with a laptop screen in 12 family group territories in the Brazilian forest. Once the marmosets became familiar with the box, the researchers showed the monkeys either a video or a still-image of a marmoset opening a box.
The wild marmosets watched the video or saw the still-image before they encountered the box with a banana sitting inside.
A wild marmoset watches an unfamiliar female marmoset pull open a drawer to get a banana prize.
With the clear box in front of it, a wild marmoset watches another marmoset open the box and grab a banana treat inside of it.
A wild marmoset eats a banana after pulling open the drawer on a puzzle box. It's possible that the marmoset learned how to open the box after watching a video of another marmoset do the same thing.
A wild marmoset pokes its head outside of the compartment used in the social learning experiment. The study helps researchers understand how marmosets may learn from one another in the wild.
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Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.