Monkeys steal human hair to floss their teeth (video)

Screen capture Riva Morningstar/YouTube

Macaques, they’re just like us! Just cuter and more resourceful...

There really is no shortage of charming things that monkeys do that remind us of us (and they likely think the same). But flossing their teeth? Sure enough, they floss their teeth.

Monkeys have been observed cleaning their teeth with coconut fibers or twigs, but the troop of macaques who live near a Buddhist shrine in Lopburi, Thailand, have found a much better alternative. Facing a dearth of wax-coated filament in plastic packages, they have let humans do their bidding. Considered divine servants, temple visitors let the monkeys climb and paw … and to purloin clutches of hair, which eventually serve their dental hygiene needs.

How they first learned this wonderfully resourceful trick remains unknown, but researchers have looked into how successive generations learn to floss. Primatologist Nobuo Masataka and his team from Kyoto University scattered 8-inch-long strands of hair throughout the shrine and recorded the primates in action. The discovered that when momma monkeys sat face-to-face with their infants, they took twice as long to floss their teeth as usual; as well, the mothers paused and repeated themselves twice as much. The researchers concluded that it’s likely that this slow, exaggerated, repetition of the process is how the kids learn to floss. Monkey see, monkey do. And judging by the video below, the kids have taken to the practice with enthusiasm.

My first thought of course is, if only it were so easy to get our own kids to floss! My second thought? Maybe a few viewings of this video would do the trick.

(And by the way, bonus points to the monkeys for using a package-free all-natural renewable resource for flossing.)

Via Boing Boing

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